NCAA Tournament: Pacers Advance With Win Over Catawba
AIKEN, S.C. – Kayla Harris posted a career-high 28 points and the regionally top-seeded and nationally seventh-ranked University of South Carolina Aiken women’s basketball team picked up a 71-69 NCAA Division II Women’s Basketball Southeast Regional quarterfinal victory over Catawba on Friday evening at the Convocation Center.
The Pacers with the win claimed their second NCAA Tournament victory in as many years. Winners of its last 11, USC Aiken (27-3) also ties the school record for most wins in a season with its 27th victory of the 2011-12 season. The Pacers also won 27 games last season.
USC Aiken with its quarterfinal win over Catawba (19-11) advances to the regional semifinal round where they will face off against the winner of the fourth-seeded Catawba-fifth-seeded Limestone game at 7 p.m. on Saturday, Mar. 10 at the Convocation Center.
Kayla Harris (Raleigh, N.C./Wakefield HS) and Hannah DeGraffinreed combined to score 48 of USC Aiken’s 71 points on Friday evening. The First-Team All-Peach Belt Conference performers have now scored 20 or more in the same game twice this season.
Harris was 10-for-15 from the floor en route to her career-high 28 points. She was a perfect 8-for-8 at the charity stripe.
DeGraffinreed (Raleigh, N.C./Merrimack College) ended her efforts with 20 points on Friday night. She was 6-of-12 from the floor and 8-for-10 from the free throw line. She also had seven rebounds.
Daniela Tarailo (Crown Point, Ind./Crown Point HS) was the final Pacer in double figures. She chipped in with 10 points in the Pacer victory.
Brittany Hill (Mechanicsville, Va./Quinnipiac) did not score in double figures in the game, but she did manage seven points, five assists, five steals and four rebounds. The Pacer floor general had no turnovers in the contest.
Chloe Bully hit five 3-pointers to lead Catawba in its loss. She concluded the game with 19 points in total. She was one of two Catawba players with 19 points as Nisha Long also scored 19 in the Catawba loss.
USC Aiken ended its win shooting 45.5 percent (25-for-55) as a team. Catawba shot 50 percent (27-for-54) as a team in the Pacer win.
The two teams entered intermission even at 31-all.
USC Aiken had led by as many as nine in the first half at 31-22 with just over four minutest remaining, but the Indians closed the opening half of play on a 9-0 run to even the game at the halftime break.
Harris led the Pacers in the first half with 12 points.
The Pacers shot 41.4 percent (12-for-29) from the field in the first half as a team. Catawba connected upon 46.4 percent (13-for-28) of its field goal attempts in the first stanza.
The two teams would still be tied with less than 10 minutes remaining at 52-52, but a 7-0 run by the Pacers would garner USC Aiken a 59-52 lead with six minutes left in the contest.
The seven-point lead would not last with the Pacers down by one at 67-66 with 1:34 to go in the game.
Four straight Pacer free throws over the next 30 seconds then pulled USC Aiken ahead 70-67 with under a minute to play.
Long would score for Catawba on its next possession, but strong Pacer defense and a Hill free throw with four seconds left would preserve the two-point win for USC Aiken.