Saturday, January 10, 2009.
AMERICUS, Ga. – Satu Leppanen scored a game-high 17 points and No. 20 USC Aiken won its fifth straight game with a 71-68 victory over Peach Belt Conference league rival Georgia Southwestern on Saturday afternoon.
Leppanen (Lahti, Finland) was one of four Pacers in double figures. Meredith Legg (Huntersville, N.C./Hopewell) finished just behind Leppanen with 15 points. Legg hit three 3-pointers and connected on six of her seven free throws.
Morgan Johnson (Marietta, Ga./Presbyterian College) returned to her home state to lead the Pacers in rebounds with eight. Johnson ended the game with 12 points, three assists and two blocks. Megan Starnes (Riley, Kan./Riley County) was the final Pacer in double digits, scoring 11 for the Pacers.
Georgia Southwestern (5-7, 0-5 PBC) had five players record double figure outings led by Jamilah Sharp, who had 13 points and six rebounds.
The Pacers shot lower than the Hurricanes overall in the contest (39 percent-42 percent), but were still able to claim the victory.
USC Aiken controlled the action in the first half, but the Hurricanes were able to place themselves back in the game in the final minutes of the first half, tying the contest for the first time at 32-32 with 2:14 left in the first half.
Georgia Southwestern took its first lead of the contest under a minute later at 34-32. Leppanen would hit four free throws over the next minute, but the Hurricanes behind a Brittany Reynolds lay-up with 15 seconds left in the first stanza were able to take a two-point 38-36 lead into intermission.
Leppanen led the Pacers in the first half with 12 points. She was a perfect 4-for-4 from the free throw line and the field in the first stanza.
The Pacers finished the first half shooting 52 percent, while the Hurricanes shot exactly 40 percent in the first half.
The second half started much the same way that the first half ended with the Hurricanes continuing to push their lead. Georgia Southwestern was able to extend its lead to as much as 10 points in the opening minutes of the second stanza, taking a 50-40 lead with just over 16 minutes left in the game.
The Pacers were able from that point forward to go on an 11-1 run that would allow them to tie the game at 51-51. Triahna Harris (Springfield, Va./West Springfield) was able to square the game for USC Aiken by hitting one of two free throws.
The Pacers took the lead back shortly thereafter at 53-51 after Leppanen was able to break free on a back door cut and hit an easy lay-up.
Georgia Southwestern would then go on a 10-3 spurt of their own to take the lead back at 61-56 with 8:21 left in the contest.
The Pacers would not let the Hurricane lead last, going on a 6-1 run over the next four minutes to tie the game at 62-62. Nakia Pinkney (Orangeburg, S.C./Orangeburg-Wilkerson) was able to even the game for USC Aiken with a jumper in the paint.
The Pacers would get the lead back at 64-62 after two Kendra Chandler (Aiken, S.C./Aiken) free throws with 4:14 left in the game.
USC Aiken would hold from that point forward to earn the three-point victory. Georgia Southwestern had a chance to tie the game at the final buzzer, but Nadirah Gardner’s three-point attempt hit the back of the rim, giving the Pacers their fifth straight win.
USC Aiken is now 12-3 on the season. They are 4-1 in Peach Belt Conference action. USC Aiken’s win over Georgia Southwestern was their fourth straight win over a PBC foe. The Pacers are also now 4-0 all-time against Georgia Southwestern.