No. 7 USC-Aiken holds off Catawba
Harris pours in career-high 28 points to lead Pacers to victory
AIKEN, S.C. -- Kayla Harris scored a career-high 28 points as No. 7 USC-Aiken picked up a 71-69 victory against Catawba in first-round action of the NCAA tournament on Friday evening at the Convocation Center.
The Pacers claimed their second NCAA tournament victory in as many years. Winners of its last 11 games, USC-Aiken (27-3) also tied the school record for most wins in a season with its 27th victory. The Pacers also won 27 games last year.
Kayla Harris and Hannah DeGraffinreed combined to score 48 of USC-Aiken's 71 points on Friday. The duo has now scored 20 or more points 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 ended her efforts with 20 points on the evening. She was 6-of-12 from the floor and 8-for-10 from the free throw line. She also had seven rebounds.
Daniela Tarailo was the final Pacer in double figures. She chipped in with 10 points in the USC-Aiken victory.
Brittany Hill 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 the loss. She concluded the game with 19 points. She was one of two Catawba players with 19 points as Nisha Long also scored 19 for the Indians.
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 as the Pacers found themselves trailing by one at 67-66 with 1:34 to go in the game.
Four consecutive 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.