UNCP Picks Up PBC Win In Comeback Victory
PEMBROKE – Despite poor shooting percentages in the first half and trailing for the majority of the game, the UNCP women’s basketball team had a come-from-behind victory at home on Wednesday evening when they faced up against the Pacers of USC Aiken, coming away with their first Peach Belt Conference win, 55-52.
UNCP (7-6, 1-3 PBC) improved two spots in the PBC’s East Division (5th of 7 teams) with their conference win over the Pacers. The Black and Gold were led by PBC Player of the Week JaToya Kemp who pumped in 21 points and picked off 9 boards. Kemp was 5-of-8 shooting from the field and 11-of-15 from the line while also registering a block and a pair of steals in 37 minutes of play.
Talena Faison also brought in double digits for the Black and Gold with her 11-point showing on 4-of-9 field goal shooting, 1-of-5 from the perimeter and was perfect on both attempts from the free throw line. Faison also brought down four boards as she registered both a pair of blocks and steals in her 22 minutes of play.
USC Aiken (5-7, 0-3) boasted career-bests in two players - Deandra Schirmer (14 rebounds) and Brittany Bowen (14 points) - but it was not enough to secure the Pacers’ first conference win. The loss is the third straight for the Pacers who fell down one spot in the PBC East Division (6th of 7 teams).
“Our first half is how we practiced the past few games in that our energy level and our concentration was not high enough for a conference game and we figured that out pretty quick,” said head coach John Haskins of the Lady Braves halftime conversation.
“We talked about attacking a little more against their zone defense, doing a better job of moving the ball as well as rebounding, and I thought they did a great job responding in the second half. Conference wins are not easy to come by.”
UNCP picked up its game coming out of halftime with a 13-point deficit on its shoulders. The Black and Gold went on a 30-14 run over the first 14 minutes of the second half to take back the lead at 45-42 for the first time since scoring the first points of the game. UNCP would lead by as many as eight points from there as the Pacers sought to cut the Lady Braves’ advantage to four points after Triahna Harris found a bucket with 1:29 left in the contest. Just less than 45 seconds later, the UNCP lead was just a 2-point cushion, 53-51, after a lay-up on a fast break by Pacer guard Nakia Pinkney.
The Lady Braves continued to battle through the second half however, taking a 3-point lead at 55-52 with 12 seconds left after Illya Hunt hit one of two free throws. The Pacers had two shots to tie the game, but could not connect, allowing the Lady Braves to earn the hard-fought, 55-52 victory.
Neither team could find a bucket early on with the Lady Braves netting the first points of the game with 16:44 left in the first stanza on free throws by Kemp. Two minutes later, USCA’s Hannah DeGraffinreed plucked the first basket of the contest for the Pacers when she hit a lay-up. With the score tied 2-2, things changed from there as USC Aiken took over the rest of the half.
By the 7:14 mark of the first half, USC Aiken held a 21-6 lead. The 21-4 run over the 9-plus minute span gave the Pacers total control as they entered intermission on top by 13 points at 28-15.
UNCP will match up in PBC play again on January 13 when the Lady Braves make the trip south to Lander (11-1, 4-0). The game against the Lady Bearcats is set to tip off at 5:30 p.m.