Posted: Thursday, March 6th 2014 at 11:22pm
North Georgia women advance to PBC semifinals
COLUMBUS -– North Georgia hit 27 of 32 free throws, including 14 of 16 over the final three minutes, to hold off upset-minded USC Aiken 77-68 in the quarterfinal round of the PBC women's basketball tournament, presented by Jani-King.
The Nighthawks advance to the PBC semifinals on Saturday, where they will face Georgia College at 2 p.m.
23rd-ranked UNG improves to 22-5 on the season while USCA sees their season come to a close with an 11-18 record.
"It feels good to get the first round win," stated head coach Buffie Burson. "Those are always the toughest it seems like."
Both teams shot over 40 percent in the first half as USC Aiken raced out to a 15-5 lead out of the gate. Mariah Durian hit a pair of three-pointers during the run, two of the five Pacer long balls in the first half.
Down 10, the Nighthawks stormed back with nine straight points, including four straight from Cierra Jackson. The two teams changed the lead six times over the final 10 minutes of the half; USC Aiken got jumpers from Mackenzie Reese, Porsha Martin and Durian to finish the half on a 6-0 run with a 42-36 lead.
The second half began with UNG tying the game at 44, then taking a five-point lead with 10:03 to go following a jumper from Lauren Pounds. USCA tied it again at 58 and again at 62-all with 3:24 to go.
The Pacers then went cold, missing their next four shots while North Georgia went to the line and win by nine.
Jackson finished with a double-double of 21 points and 10 rebounds for the Nighthawks while Mimi Hill added 20 points and seven rebounds despite being saddled with foul trouble. Stephanie Huffman added 15 and Keely Chester 10 points and eight boards off the bench. The action was Chester's first after sitting out the last seven games with an injury.
UNG shot 43 percent from the floor but only 4-for-19 from long range.
Durian led all scorers with 27 points in the game on 11 of 16 shooting. Courtney Mealing added 11 with Martin and Reese adding 10 each. Reese led the Pacers with nine rebounds.
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