USC AIKEN 59, GEORGIA COLLEGE 54
Better late than never, the USC Aiken women's basketball team did what it had to do to start the Peach Belt Conference grind with a win.
The Pacers overcame a 10-point deficit with 3:06 left in the third quarter for a 59-54 win over Georgia College on Wednesday at the Convocation Center, and it was thanks in large part to defensive execution that finally clicked late in the game.
"I thought in the second half we did a better job of guarding people and making it difficult for them," said USCA head coach Mark Miller. "They're a well-coached team. They're well-prepared. They played hard.
"But I was really pleased with our effort, especially in the fourth quarter because we finally got after it and guarded people like we can. Once we got stops on the defensive end, then our offense got going and we made a couple plays down the stretch."
USCA (4-1, 1-0 PBC) closed the third quarter on a 9-2 run to cut Georgia College's lead to 46-43, and then the Pacers took control in the fourth quarter. Their 57-50 lead with 20 seconds left was their biggest of the game, and it punctuated a 23-6 run.
The Pacers owned the glass, out-rebounding the Bobcats 52-31 – including 13 offensive boards. Sade Johnson had a game-high 11 rebounds, and Kwajelin Farrar had 10 to lead the charge.
"Get the ball. Just get the ball," said Johnson, who at 5-foot-9 routinely found a way to get to loose balls against taller players. "Play my role and do what I have to do to help the team. That's all."
USCA held Georgia College to just 8 points in the fourth quarter, with half of them coming in the final 10 seconds.
It was a balanced offensive effort, with four Pacers scoring at least 10 points. Kyrie' Chandler had a team-high 11, and Melyk Taouil and freshmen Madeline Sexton and Grace Crawford had 10 apiece. Farrar added nine, just missing out on a double-double.
"For us, we have to be really balanced, so we've got to get something in the post and we've got to get something off the bounce. I felt like tonight we did that," Miller said. "We got something in the post, and we were OK off the bounce. We got better as the game went offensively, and that's gonna be the case for us.
"We've got a lot of different weapons. We can score a lot of different ways. But we have to be balanced."
USCA limited Georgia College's drives to the basket and didn't bail out the Bobcats when they got to the rim – Georgia College only attempted eight free throws. The Bobcats attempted several long 3-pointers early in the shot clock and went just 1-for-11 in the second half as USCA made its late run.
The Pacers, by contrast, went to the free throw line for 25 attempts. They made just 15, which Miller said is a work in progress, but it still produced an 11-point advantage. Those missed Georgia College 3-pointers produced long rebounds that gave the Pacers opportunities to be aggressive in transition.
Turnovers were trouble for both teams, especially USCA – the Pacers' 21 turnovers became 18 points for the Bobcats.
Still, USCA was dialed in just in time to take control of the game.
Jasmine McSwain led Georgia College in scoring with 13 points. Harper Vick had 11, and Erin Drynan had 10.
Up next for the Pacers is a home game at 1:30 p.m. Saturday against PBC foe Georgia Southwestern.