Story Courtesy Lander University
GREENWOOD, S.C. – Sophomore forward Nikki Arner's long 3-pointer with 3.4 seconds left gave Ferris State a 60-58 upset victory over No. 17 South Carolina-Aiken Saturday afternoon in the opening game of the Lady Bearcat Tipoff Classic at Lander University's Horne Arena in Greenwood, S.C.
Aiken trailed the entire second half until Brittany Hill got a steal and fed teammate Hannah DeGraffinreed for a fast-break layup that gave the Pacers a 58-57 lead with 18 seconds remaining.
But the Bulldogs passed the ball around and senior guard Tricia Principe found Arner open on the left wing. Standing about three feet behind the 3-point line, she nailed what would be the game-winning shot.
Aiken's Daniela Tarailo inbounded the ball to Hill, who drove toward the basket, but she never got a shot off as the final buzzer sounded.
Ferris State improved to 2-0 while the Pacers dropped to 1-1. Aiken will meet Barton Sunday at 2 while Ferris State faces host No. 10 Lander Sunday at 4 p.m.
Principe led the school from Big Rapids, Mich., with 15 points. Sophomore guard Sarah DeShone added 11 points for Ferris State, while Arner contributed nine points and a game-high nine rebounds. DeShone also had a game-high seven assists.
Tarailo led Aiken with 13 points, DeGraffinreed scored 11 points and made several big plays down the stretch, and Kayla Harris added 10 points. DeGraffinreed led the Pacers with five rebounds while Hill had five assists.
Tarailo hit a pair of 3-pointers and Mia Antoine added one, staking Aiken to an 11-4 lead in the first four minutes of the game. But Ferris State stormed back with a 12-2 run and led 16-13 with 10:25 left on a basket by Arner.
Tarailo's third 3-pointer of the half tied the game at 18-all with 8:36 to go. Mackenzie Reese's 3-pointer as the shot clock was expiring gave the Pacers a 23-22 lead with 5:04 left.
But the Bulldogs closed the first half with a 14-5 run to build a 36-28 halftime lead. Sophomore forward Ashley Rando's jumper started the run, giving Ferris State a 24-23 edge. Rando added a 3-pointer and DeShone had three baskets during the run.
Principe hit two free throws to give Ferris State the first double-digit lead for either team in the game, 38-28, with 18:37 left. But Lindsay Sundberg's 3-pointer pulled Aiken within 38-34 with 17:33 to go.
The Bulldogs stretched the lead back to nine, 46-37, when Principe put back her own missed shot.
But Aiken fought back again, closing with 46-44 with 9:11 left when Harris converted a three-point play.
Arner scored two baskets in a row and Principe also scored to stretch Ferris State's lead back to eight, 52-44, with 6:19 left.
The Pacers scored six unanswered points to pull within a possession, 52-50, with 4:26 to go on a basket by Hall, steal and layup by DeGraffinreed, and a jumper by Porsha Martin.
Tarailo's 3-pointer closed Aiken within 54-53 at the 2:42 mark. But Principe answered with a 3-pointer on the other end, giving the Bulldogs a 57-53 advantage with 2:23 left.
The Pacers pulled within a possession again when Antoine's steal led to a pair of DeGraffinreed free throws, making it 57-55 with 1:28 to go.
DeGraffinreed drew a charge with 59 seconds left, and Harris made one of two free throws with 45.8 seconds left to pull Aiken within 57-56.
Ferris State slowly brought the ball back up the floor and wound the clock down, but Hill stepped in front of a pass and fed DeGraffinreed for the go-ahead basket, setting the stage for Arner's heroics.
Ferris State made 23 of 54 shots from the floor (43 percent), hit eight of 10 free throws (80 percent), and made six of 17 from 3-point range (35 percent). The Bulldogs outrebounded Aiken 41-30.
Aiken made 20 of 55 shots from the floor (36 percent), 10 of 14 free throws (71 percent), and eight of 21 from behind the arc (38 percent).
Ferris State faces host Lander on Sunday afternoon to wrap up play in the event.