No. 3 USC Aiken Escapes Trojan Upset BidDecember 19, 2012
AIKEN, S.C. – Using an early second-half run, No. 3 USC Aiken edged Anderson, 63-59, in nonconference women’s basketball action Wednesday night at the Convocation Center.
Anderson (7-4) wrapped up its nonconference slate and had its win streak halted at five games, while USC Aiken (9-0) remained unbeaten and is off to the best start in school history. The Pacers have won a school-record 24 straight regular-season home games and improved to 5-0 all-time versus the Trojans.
USC Aiken scored the first four points of the game and following a 3-pointer from Anderson’s Amanda Parris that trimmed the Pacers’ lead to one, senior guard Daniela Tarailo scored her fifth point of the early going to give USC Aiken a 7-3 lead at the 17:50 mark.
But the Trojans answered with a 10-2 run to take a four-point lead, at 13-9, with 12:01 on the clock. Senior guard Alissa Diaz sparked the outburst with a basket, while senior forward Tilde Ahlin made it four straight for the Trojans with a 15-foot jumper from the left elbow that knotted the score for the first time of the night at 7-7. Diaz then gave the Trojans their first lead of the fast-paced contest with her first trey and sophomore guard Lesley Woods capped the run with the first of her two 3-pointers in the opening half.
The Pacers countered with four straight points on consecutive baskets from Mackenzie Reese and preseason All-American Kayla Harris to even the score at 13-13 midway through the half, but Anderson responded with a 15-5 outburst to claim a double-digit 28-18 lead with just more than two minutes left in the half.
Senior forward Breonda Shannon led the way for the Trojans, scoring all six of her first-half points in the final nine minutes of the frame, while Woods added another trey during the run.
Tarailo closed the first-half scoring with a rare four-point play by connecting on a 3-pointer while drawing a foul and draining the ensuing free throw to pull the Pacers within 28-22 with 14 seconds remaining.
The Trojans committed six turnovers in the first six minutes of the second stanza, enabling the Pacers to extend their last-minute run of the opening half into a 19-5 surge over the opening seven minutes of the second half and gain a 37-33 lead with 13:34 left in the contest.
But the Trojans refused to go away and briefly regained the advantage, 41-39, on Diaz’s traditional three-point play at the 11:48 mark, as the second half featured two ties and five lead changes in the first nine minutes.
USC Aiken’s Brittany Hill snapped the fourth tie of the contest with one of two free throws to give the Pacers a 42-41 edge and a lead they would not relinquish with 11:13 remaining in the game.
The Pacers edged out to a six-point lead on three occasions over the remainder of the game, with AU sophomore guard Sierra Simpson getting the Trojans as close as 58-57 on her traditional three-point play with less than two minutes left, but Tarailo countered with her fourth trey to push USCA’s lead back to 61-57.
Shannon dropped in a layup with five seconds on the clock, but Hill hit two from the line with 2.7 seconds remaining to set the final score.
Anderson shot a season-best 50 percent from the field, while the Pacers were 21 of 50 for 42 percent, and the rebounding battle was even at 28 apiece.
Diaz moved into 10th place all-time in the school record books with her team-high 16 points, while Shannon notched her third double-double of the season with 13 points and 10 rebounds, including five offensive boards. Simpson chipped in seven points and dished out a team-best four assists.
Tarailo finished with a game-high 21 points, while Harris tossed in 14 points and senior guard Mia Antoine netted 12.
The Trojans have a 16-day layoff over the Christmas holiday before resuming South Atlantic Conference action by playing host to Lenoir-Rhyne on Wednesday, Jan. 5. Tip-off versus the Bears is slated for 2 p.m. at the Abney Athletic Center.