|Pacers Hold Off GCSU, 50-46|
|USC Aiken advances to NCAA Division II Southeast Regional Semifinals|
|Web Posted 3/13/10|
|View Release In PDF|
Ga. - Sixth-seeded USC Aiken went up early and then shook off a late rally by third-seeded Georgia College & State to acquire a 50-46 upset victory over the Bobcats in the quarterfinals of the 2010 NCAA Division II Men’s Basketball Southeast Regional at Christenberry Fieldhouse.
USC Aiken with the win advances to face the winner of the No. 2 Mount Olive-No. 7 Montevallo contest in the NCAA Division II Southeast Regional semifinals at 5 p.m. on Sunday, March 14 at Christenberry Fieldhouse. The Pacers are now 20-10 on the 2009-10 season. USC Aiken has now claimed three consecutive 20-win seasons.
Georgia College & State sees their 2009-10 season come to a close with a 22-6 record.
The game was scoreless for the opening two minutes before USC Aiken senior forward Seth Leonard knocked down a three-pointer to get things going in the contest and give the Pacers an early 3-0 advantage. Leonard hit a driving lay-up a minute later to give the Pacers a 5-0 lead with just under 17 minutes remaining in the first half of action.
The Pacers and Bobcats entered the first media timeout of the game at the 15:28 mark of the first half with USC Aiken clinging to a 5-0 lead. The Pacer lead was 8-0 after a Byron Faison three-pointer just after play resumed from the media timeout.
GCSU finally erased a 0-for-6 start from the field in the contest when Ryan Aquino knocked down a long two-pointer with 14:37 on the clock in the first stanza.
The Pacers proceeded to go on an 8-1 spurt over the next three minutes to own a 13-point 16-3 lead with 11:25 left until intermission. After a three-pointer by Leonard with 7:36 remaining the USC Aiken advantage had moved to 21 points at 22-3.
The 21-point advantage was made plausible by an opening 12 minutes that saw GCSU hit upon just 1 of their first 13 shot attempts (7.7 percent) from the floor.
GCSU’s Jake Rios was finally able to snap a stretch that saw the Bobcats unable to procure a field goal from the 14:36 mark to the 7:05 mark of the first half. The Rios trey was part of back-to-back 3-pointers by him that cut the Pacer lead to 13 at 22-9 with just over six minutes remaining in the first half.
GCSU would close the half on a 15-9 run to leave the score 31-18 in favor of the Pacers at the halftime break.
USC Aiken concluded the first half shooting 43.5 percent (10-for-23), while the Pacer defense held the Bobcat offense to just 27.3 percent (6-for-22) shooting from the floor in the first half.
The Bobcat defense commenced the second stanza by holding the Pacers to just one bucket in the opening five minutes of the half. In turn, the GCSU offense went on a 12-2 run to cut the Pacer lead to three points at 33-30 with 14:50 left in the game.
Re’mon Nelson hit a driving lay-up at the 13:33 mark of the second half to make the score 35-30 in USC Aiken’s favor and snap a stretch that saw the Pacers held scoreless by GCSU from the 19:12 mark of the second half until the 13:33 mark of the second half. USC Aiken shot just 18.2 percent (2-for-11) through the first eight and a half minutes of the second half.
Jake Rios picked up GCSU its first lead of the game at the 7:32 mark when he drained a long three-pointer from the left corner. The score acquired the Bobcats a 39-38 lead, but the Pacers responded on their next offensive possession with Pacer senior guard Mark Brown hitting a clutch jumper on the baseline to give the Pacers the lead back at 40-39 with 7:15 left in the game. GCSU’s Andre Mikell hit one of two free throws a little while later to leave the game tied at 40-40.
The Pacers would go on a 5-1 run to take a 45-41 lead with under three minutes remaining, but GCSU’s Josh Hurst knocked down a long three-pointer from the left corner to cut the Pacer lead to just one at 45-44 with 2:12 left on the game clock.
On USC Aiken’s next offensive possession the Pacer coaching staff called a clear out for Nelson and he responded by going strong to the hoop and forcing GCSU Peach Belt Conference All-Conference First Team member Graham Martin to foul him in the act of making a lay-up. Martin fouled out on the play and Nelson knocked down the ensuing free throw to place the Pacers ahead by four at 48-44.
GCSU responded on its next possession with Mikell getting fouled in the act of making a lay-up. He could not hit the free throw, leaving the Pacers up by two at 48-46 with under a minute to play.
The Pacers were not able to score on their next possession, giving GCSU the chance to tie or take the lead next. Leonard stood his ground on a Mikell drive to take the charge and give USC Aiken the basketball on the offensive foul by Mikell with seven seconds left in the contest.
One of the top free throw shooters in all of the country, USC Aiken’s Sterling Council then hit one of two to leave the Pacers ahead by three at 49-46. Mikell traveled on the Bobcats’ next possession to leave the Pacers with the basketball with 1.7 left on the game clock. The Pacers were able to get the basketball to Brown, who made a free throw to make it impossible for GCSU to even the game in USC Aiken’s four-point 50-46 victory.
The Pacers finished the game shooting 35.6 percent (16-for-45), while the Bobcats concluded the game hitting 34 percent (16-for-47) of their shot attempts.
Both teams only had one player in double figures with Leonard for USC Aiken and Rios for GCSU both notching 17 in the contest. Rios hit five three-pointers. (Box Score)
USC Aiken Head Coach Vince Alexander
(On how they won this game without two players) “We’re a team and that is the only way you can explain it. The good thing about this team is that we don’t worry about one person. The team continues to go on and I think that it starts with leadership. We have great leaders and they say we have a game to play and it does not matter who is out we still have to play.”
USC Aiken’s Seth Leonard
(On coming out slow): “We came out a little, but we came out to win and we won. Our team has a lot of passion and heart. If you play with a lot of heart, you will be alright.”
USC Aiken’s Mark Brown
(On losing lead and the shot to get it back): “If you lose the lead you cannot tuck your head between your legs. The shot was open and I took it, and I was not thinking on it too much, I just reacted.”
Georgia College & State Head Coach Terry Sellers
“I am really proud of the team for coming back in the second half. I thought that the guys fought extremely hard to get back into the game and we had a one point lead toward the end of the game. We just really battled back and it came down to a couple of possessions and free throws. I felt like we would get back in the game and we did, just not enough to get over the hump.”
(On not making the free throws) “We did not shoot our free throws very well. That was somewhat of a surprise and I did not expect that.
(On 10 day layoff) “I was confident maybe even more confident going into this game than some of the other games this season. The guys have had some great practices and I thought coming in was good for us. We needed to get a lot of work done, we got a lot of done and the guys were eager to play.”
Georgia College & State’s Jake Rios
(On halftime) I felt like it was any other halftime. We talked about what we needed to better defensively and offensively. We seniors drilled it into the rest of the players heads that we need to pick it up or we are not going to have another shot at this.”
(On second half) “I was very pleased with the second half, we started making shots, started to rebound the ball and taking care of the ball better, just that first half was the deciding factor.”