News 12 @ 11 Saturday Feb. 9, 2008
AIKEN, S.C.— Chris Commons scored 22 of his game-high 29 points in the first half and #7 USC Aiken (19-2, 13-1 PBC) held on after building a 20-point second half lead, defeating visiting North Georgia (12-9, 7-7 PBC) 75-70 in Peach Belt Conference men’s basketball action. The Pacers have won six-straight games and maintain their one-game lead in the PBC standings with their school-record 13th conference win of the season.
The game was homecoming at the USCA Convocation Center, and 2,755 fans packed the arena, setting a new single game home attendance record. In an ironic twist, the previous record of 2,148 was set on February 3, 2001, when the Pacers defeated UNC Pembroke 82-70 for their record-setting 10th-straight home win. Saturday’s win improved USC Aiken to a perfect 10-0 at home this season, tying the school record for consecutive home wins.
The Pacers started the game with a flurry of offense and led it 12-2 when Commons hit a three at the 17:16 mark, giving him 10 points on 4-for-4 shooting. After the Saints closed to 13-5, another 12-2 run sparked by the USCA defense made it 25-7 with 12:58 still on the clock. Including three steals from junior Jeremy Fears, the Pacers had already forced six turnovers.
Commons scored his 21st and 22nd points of the night on a jumper at the 7:11 mark, and Fears’ steal and layup moments later gave USCA their biggest lead of the half, 34-25. While Commons garnered the spotlight, Fears scored 10 points and had six steals in the opening half.
Avonte Williams scored seven of her game-high 22 in a decisive 14-0 run late in the second half as USC Aiken (14-6, 8-6 PBC) pulled away from a 53-53 game to win 76-59 over North Georgia (14-7, 7-7 PBC) in women’s Peach Belt Conference basketball on Saturday night at the Convocation Center. More than 2,200 fans, a single game school record, were on hand for Homecoming 2008.
The win avenges a 93-83 loss in Dahlonega on January 5 and marks the Lady Pacers fourth win in the last five games. North Georgia falls to 1-6 on the road in PBC games while USC Aiken moves to 7-1 on homecoming since 2000. Including tonight’s 17-point win, all eight decisions have been by double figures.
North Georgia grabbed the early lead and built a 14-10 spread with 14:00 on the clock after a Kourtney Singleton lay-up. Singleton scored a career-high 34 in the first meeting between the two teams, but was held to 14 on Saturday night.
Jordon Thomas connected on a pair of free throws to ignite a 10-2 run as the Lady Pacers took their first lead 20-16 after six-straight points from Williams with 8:51 left in the half. Williams finished 10-of-11 from the field, breaking the school record for single game accuracy.
After Singleton knotted the game back up on two charity tosses, the final 5:25 saw five ties and seven lead changes with no one leading by more than a bucket. Victoria Peevy converted 3-of-4 free throws in the closing 38 seconds to give North Georgia the edge at the break 33-31.
North Georgia used a 6-0 spurt early in the final stanza to pull in front by their largest margin 46-41 on a Megan Huffman three-pointer with 14:24 to play. It would mark Huffman’s only points of the second half as she finished with 13.
Tied for the 12th time in the game at 53-53 with 8:58 left, Williams knocked down a three-pointer from the wing, igniting the 14-0 run that put USC Aiken in front to stay 67-53 with 3:43 on the clock. Williams had seven during the crucial run while the Lady Saints missed seven-straight shots from the field.
The league’s best free throw shooting team closed out the game at the line, finishing 25-of-33 for 75.8 percent. USC Aiken also shot 75.0 percent in the second half, 15-of-20, and finished 53.3 percent for the game. North Georgia struggled to 19-of-53 for 35.8 percent.
Thomas poured in 10 of her 12 in the second half to go with six assists and two blocks. Megan Starnes added her sixth-straight double-figure night with 10 while Meredith Legg was right at her average, chipping in 15.