No. 3 USC AIKEN 65, UNC PEMBROKE 51
By JEREMY TIMMERMAN
Kayla Harris came into Saturday’s game against UNC Pembroke needing just one point to become the ninth USC Aiken women’s basketball player to score 1,000 points in a career.
She got that and more while leading the No. 3 Pacers to a 65-51 win over the Braves to start Peach Belt Conference play. The All-American junior forward scored 24 points to go with nine rebounds in the win.
Harris said the feat was “an honor” and expressed gratitude for the efforts of her teammates and coaches.
“It’s a great opportunity and a great accomplishment, and I’m really proud,” she said.
USCA (7-0, 1-0) head coach Mike Brandt was quick to point out that Harris doesn’t score in volume by taking shots away from her teammates.
“The thing about Kayla getting 1,000 points her junior year, her teammates are unselfish, but also she’s very unselfish,” he said. “You know, she steps up when she needs to do it, but she looks to pass ... and enjoys getting some assist.
Harris had four assists in the game, but point guard Brittany Hill led the way in that department. The junior tied her career best with 11 assists – one shy of the USCA single-game record.
The game was actually in doubt for a healthy portion of the first half, with the Pacers trailing by as many as four points. That was before Harris led a hot stretch that gave the home team a 35-29 halftime lead. USCA wasn’t done with its offensive burst, though, and the halftime break didn’t slow the Pacers down much.
They started the second half on a 16-5 run that put the game out of reach. The lead got as big as 27 points – at 61-34 with 9:35 left in the game – before Brandt turned to his bench and the Braves (5-3, 0-1) were able to pull back to a more respectable result.
Brandt was pleased with the way his team reacted to a slow start to win in such impressive fashion. He attributed the “sluggish” opening minutes to 10 days off between games.
“You’ve got to go against, No. 1, not playing for 10 days and, No. 2. go against having all the finals,” he said. “Once they got the energy level and got that out of their system, they responded greatly.”
The Pacers will have much less time between games this time, playing at Francis Marion on Monday before returning home to host Anderson on Wednesday. Both games are slated to tip-off at 5:30 p.m.
Jeremy Timmerman has a journalism degree from Mercer University and has been at the Aiken Standard since June 2010.