AIKEN, S.C. – In a win or go home scenario, the Augusta University women's basketball team had a large first-half lead spoiled by the USC Aiken Pacers and fell 92-81 in their final Peach Belt Conference regular-season game of the year.
The PBC regular season came to a close on Wednesday night for all teams. The top eight teams in the league advanced to the PBC Tournament. Lander is the top seed in the east, Francis Marion will be the #2 seed, UNC Pembroke is the #3 seed, and USC Aiken earned #4.
The stakes were set high before tipoff. Winner went to postseason as the #4 seed and the loser was done. Augusta (13-13, 8-11 PBC) led by 14 over the Pacers (14-14, 10-9 PBC) in the first half, but Aiken bounced back to snap a five game losing streak.
In the PBC West, Columbus State is the top seed with Clayton State #2, North Georgia #3, and Georgia College #4.
O'Conner, a Peach Belt Preseason All-Conference selection, had 20 points at the half and ended the game with 23 to lead the Jags. Junior Abrea Harris turned in 19 off the bench, junior JJ Williams 11, and Lovett 10 points.
Aiken's Kwajelin Farrar also had 20 points at the pause and led her squad with a game-best 26. Carly Gilreath had 18 for USCA and Kate Duff 11.
Augusta posted a 43. 5 field-goal percentage (30-for-69) to USCA's 53.4 percent (31-for-58), while each team hit eight three pointers. The free-throw line played a factor as the Pacers outscored the Jags 22-13 at the stripe.
Jags senior Tavia Sykes sunk the opening basket of the game, but the Pacers prevailed with an 11-4 run to steal the lead. O'Conner's made free throw after a contested basket brought AU back within one and back-to-back shots from Lovett and Harris put the Jags up 15-11.
The score stayed to Augusta the rest of the first half. Belcher buried her second three of the game with 1:10 to go in the first half to boost Augusta up 54-40 at the half.
The advantage dwindled for the Jaguars in the third period as the Pacers outscored AU 26-10. Emily Waters' hit a free throw to make it a three-point play and tied the contest at 64-all with just under a minute in the third. Aiken stole a two-point lead heading into the final 10 minutes of play.
USCA built a 10-point lead with 6:53 to play in the game, but back-to-back three pointers cut AU's deficit to 77-73. The Pacers led the rest of the way to knock off Augusta.
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