Saturday, December 6, 2008.
SAVANNAH, Ga. – Josh Dollard grabbed his first double-double in a USC Aiken uniform and the second-ranked Pacers escaped with a 73-68 victory over Armstrong Atlantic State on Saturday afternoon at Alumni Arena. The victory earned the defending Peach Belt Conference champions their first league victory of the 2008-09 season and improved their record to a perfect 4-0 on the year.
Dollard (Hemingway, S.C./Auburn) concluded his efforts on Saturday with 26 points and 12 rebounds. He was 10-for-14 overall from the floor. The junior transfer was 5-for-6 from the charity stripe.
Dollard was one of three Pacers in double figures with Chris Commons (Toledo, Ohio/Findlay) scoring 19 for USC Aiken in the conference victory. Commons was 9-for-15 from the field in the game. Javonte Clanton (Columbus, Ohio/Blinn College) chipped in with 10 for the Pacers.
The Pacers overall shot 56 percent from the field in the contest, including 47 percent from beyond the arc. Armstrong Atlantic State shot just 37 percent from the floor in the loss to the Pacers.
The Pirates were led in the loss by Calvin Wilson’s double-double. Wilson ended the loss with 18 points and 10 boards.
The Pacers and Pirates played neck-and-neck for the first eight-plus minutes of the first half. Still, the Pacers exerted themselves by exploiting the Pirates defense by taking a double-digit lead just 10 minutes into the contest.
The early Pacer run started with the score 18-15 with 11:21 left in the first half. USC Aiken propelled by Commons and Dollard extended their lead to 10 by going on a 9-2 run that set the score 27-17 in favor of USC Aiken with 9:14 left in the first stanza.
The 10-point advantage was buoyed by the fact that USC Aiken came out of the gate scorching from the field. The Pacers taking mainly high percentage shots with only one three-pointer hit in the first 14 minutes at one point were shooting as high as 70.1 percent through the opening minutes.
The Pirates cut the Pacer lead to 29-25 a few minutes later, but USC Aiken responded by going on a 10-2 run to push their lead back to double digits at 39-27 with 4:35 left in the first half. The 10-2 run by the Pacers prompted Armstrong Atlantic head coach Jeff Burkhamer to take a time out to try and calm his troops.
The strategy would not work with the Pacers knocking down the first field after the time out on a three-pointer by Kingsley Oguchi (Houston, Texas/George Bush). Clanton would hit another shortly thereafter to place the Pacers ahead by 18 at 45-27.
The Pacers would enter halftime still up by 18 points at 49-31. The Pacers concluded the half shooting 68.8 percent (22-of-32). The Pirates in turn were held to 28.9 percent (11-for-38) shooting in the first stanza.
Mark Brown (Charlotte, N.C./Hickory Grove Christian) extended USC Aiken’s lead past 20 points for the first time with the opening shoot of the second half when he drained a three-pointer to push the Pacer advantage to 52-31.
The Pirates were able to cut their deficit to 14 points over the next eight minutes, but USC Aiken held strong, keeping their lead hovering above 15 for the next five minutes. USC Aiken held a 67-52 lead with just over eight minutes to play.
Armstrong Atlantic would cut the lead to eight at 69-58 on a three-pointer by Keron McKenzie with 5:59 left in the game. Over a minute later another three-pointer by McKenzie pulled the Pirates back to within single digits at 69-61 with 4:41 left to play.
Two minutes later the Pirates had continued their push by cutting the deficit once again to as close as five with under two minutes to play in the contest after a strong inside lay-up by Uriah Hethington.
The Pacer lead was just 71-68 after a T.T. Hall lay-up for Armstrong Atlantic with 1:13 left. Cordaryl Ballard (Westerville, Ohio/Morehead State) garnered USC Aiken a four-point lead at 72-68 with one of two free throws with 24 seconds on the game clock. Dollard hit a free throw to give USC Aiken a five-point win at 73-68.