Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Pacers rally and nip Patriots at the tape, 66-64

AIKEN, SC – Junior center Hannah DeGraffinreed scored the game’s final five points to lead USC Aiken to a 66-64 come-from-behind upset of 25th-ranked Francis Marion University, Wednesday evening (Dec. 1) in Peach Belt Conference women’s basketball action.

Francis Marion, which led by as many as 15 points in the first half and 10 in the second stanza, drops to 3-1 overall and 0-1 in the PBC.  USCA improves to 7-2 and 1-0 and hands head coach Mike Brandt his 400th career win.

Freshman Brittany Christian scored a career-high 17 points as did senior Shannon Singleton-Bates to lead FMU.  Christian hit 5-of-9 three point attempts.  Senior Robin Colbert and sophomore Courtney Mealing each added 10 points.

Deandra Schirmer led USCA with 15 points on 7-of-8 shooting and grabbed seven rebounds.  The Lady Pacers outrebounded Francis Marion 45-31.

Prior to the final minute, USCA’s only lead of the contest came at 4-2.  The Patriots quickly responded with a 13-1 run that produced a 15-5 lead.  Christian scored 11 of FMU’s opening 22 points as the margin grew to 22-10.

The lead would swell to 15 points on three occasions – the final time at 35-20 following a Hannah Jones lay-up with 4:30 left in the half.  However, the Lady Pacers scored nine of the half’s final 11 points to close to within 37-29 at intermission.

A Kayla Harris basket brought USCA to within 46-42 at the 13:52 mark, but Francis Marion answered with a 9-3 spurt – capped by a Mealing three-pointer – that gave the Patriots a 55-45 advantage.

With 7:56 remaining, a jump shot by Mealing produced a 61-54 FMU lead.  The Patriots would then miss six of their final seven field goal attempts while committing six turnovers and allowing the Lady Pacers to rally.

Triahna Harris tied the game at 61-61 on a free throw with 3:23 left.  Singleton-Bates put the Patriots back ahead on a three-point play with 1:13 on the clock.  DeGraffinreed converted a pair of lay-ups to give USCA a 65-64 advantage.  Following an FMU turnover, she upped the lead to 66-64 with a free throw with seven ticks left.

Following an FMU timeout, Singleton-Bates then dribbled the ball up the court, but was unable to get off a potential game-tying shot before the horn sounded.

Francs Marion will play a neutral site game against Shaw University on Saturday at 2 p.m. in Savannah, Ga.

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