USC-Aiken tops No. 3 Clayton State
DeGraffinreed scores 18 points to lead Pacers to victory
COLUMBUS, Ga. -- No. 9 South Carolina-Aiken earned its first Peach Belt Conference championship with a 52-47 victory against No. 3 Clayton State on Sunday afternoon at the Frank G. Lumpkin Center on the campus of Columbus State.
The victory allowed the Pacers to claim the Peach Belt Conference's automatic bid to the 2012 NCAA tournament.
USC Aiken (26-3) opened the game by racing out to a 10-3 lead.
Clayton State (28-3) had cut the Pacer lead to just four with under four minutes play, but the Pacers closed the first stanza on a 6-0 run to take a 10-point lead into intermission.
The Pacers would lead by as many as 15 in the second half, but with 7:36 remaining in the game USC Aiken owned just a one-point advantage at 43-42.
From there, the Pacers would weather the Laker charge, outscoring Clayton State 9-5 the rest of the way to claim the win.
Peach Belt Conference Tournament Most Valuable Player Hannah DeGraffinreed ended Sunday's championship game win with a game-high 18 points. She also had three rebounds and three assists.
DeGrafffinreed, who scored 14 of her points in the first half, was 6-for-10 from the field in the game. She was a perfect 6-of-6 at the charity stripe.
All-Tournament Team member Kayla Harris was right behind DeGraffinreed with a double-double with 15 points and 10 rebounds. She also had two steals, two blocks and one assist.
Keona Dixon came off the bench to lead two Lakers in double figures in the game with 15 points. Tanisha Woodard added 11.
USC Aiken ended the win against Clayton State shooting 46.3 percent (19-for-41) as a team. The Pacers hit 84.6 percent (11-for-13) of their free throw attempts.
The Pacer defense limited Clayton State to 31 percent (18-for-58) shooting as a team.