Lady Pacers win first round tournament game

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Thursday March 7, 2013

COLUMBUS, Ga. - The nationally 25th-ranked University of South Carolina Aiken women's basketball team knocked off the host Columbus State University Cougars, 82-72, in quarterfinal action at the 2013 Peach Belt Conference Championships at the Lumpkin Center on Thursday evening.

The second-seeded East Division Pacers (21-6) advance to face top-ranked and unbeaten Clayton State University - 76-44 winners over Armstrong Atlantic State University in quarterfinal action - in the second PBC Tournament semifinal matchup at 4 p.m. on Saturday, March 9.

USC Aiken is the defending tournament champions and have defeated Clayton State in each of the last two tournaments - a 73-72 overtime semifinal win in 2011 and a 52-47 win in the championship game last season. Columbus State, the third seed out of the West Division, sees its season come to a close at 16-11.

The Pacers jumped out to a 21-10 lead in the first eight minutes of the contest as a Mia Antoine (Stone Mountain, Ga./Dominion Christian HS) 3-pointer capped the opening run to the game. Columbus State cut the lead to three, 25-22, on a Candice Edmundson bucket with 9:21 left to go in the half, but the Pacers' Brittany Hill (Mechanicsville, Va./Quinnipiac) answered with a 3-pointer and USC Aiken was able to stretch the lead back to nine, 37-28, on a Daniela Tarailo (Crown Point, Ind./Crown Point HS) layup with 4:31 left to go in the half.

USC Aiken would carry an eight-point advantage into the break, leading 41-33. The Pacers hit 50 percent (18-of-36) from the floor in the first half, including 5-of-8 three-pointers (62.5 percent). Columbus State hit 14-of-37 shots (37.8 percent) from the floor in the first half, but was 0-for-7 from 3-point range.

In the second half, Columbus State cut the lead to three on a Kayla Richards 3-pointer two minutes in, making it 43-40, but Hill drained two 3-pointers in a 10-1 run over the next five minutes that stretched the lead to 12, 53-41, with 13:19 left.

A Tarailo 3-pointer with 3:41 left made the lead 72-59 with 3:41, but the Cougars got two free throws from Kiersten Reid, a steal and a 3-pointer by Shan Basley to cut the lead to eight, 72-64, but that would be as close as the Cougars would get down the stretch.