Wednesday Dec. 3, 2008
WINGATE, N.C. – Megan Starnes finished with a career-high 25 points, but it was not enough for seventh-ranked USC Aiken as they dropped their first game of the 2008-09 season to 16th-ranked Wingate on Wednesday evening at Cuddy Arena, 72-66.
The Pacers (6-1) controlled the game for much of the first half, going up by as many as three with a few seconds left in the first half. Wingate’s Stefani Shuey hit a jumper at the final buzzer of the first half to leave the Bulldogs (5-1) behind by just one at intermission.
In a game in which the lead swapped hands 14 times and the game was tied 11 different times, Wingate took the lead for good at 44-40 with 16:53 left in the second half. The Bulldogs would go on a run over the next two minutes to go up by as many as 10 points with just over 14 minutes left in the game.
The Pacers would get back to within four with five minutes left, but they could get no closer with the Bulldogs holding on for the six-point victory.
The loss snaps USC Aiken’s season-opening six-game winning streak. The loss to the 16th-ranked Bulldogs was the first for USC Aiken against a ranked team in seven outings. The Pacers had entered the game on a six-game winning streak against ranked foes. USC Aiken is 9-9 against ranked opponents in its seven years under Mike Brandt.
The Bulldogs were the fourth ranked team that USC Aiken had taken on in its seven games so far in the 2008-09 season. The Pacers defeated then 13th-ranked and current 14th-ranked Tusculum in their last game last Monday. The Pacers in addition to 13th-ranked Tusculum had also downed ninth-ranked Delta State and 24th-ranked Anderson.
Starnes (Riley, Kan./Riley County) was 8-for-18 from the field in the loss. Most of Starnes’ points in the game came from beyond the arc with the senior guard knocking down a career-high five three-pointers. Starnes, who was a perfect 4-for-4 from the charity stripe in the game, has now scored 20 or more twice in USC Aiken’s first seven games. She also had 21 points in USC Aiken’s win over nationally-ranked Delta State.