AIKEN, SC – Junior forward Josh Dollard scored seven of his game-high 31 points in the fourth overtime to lead second-seeded and 17th-ranked USC Aiken to a thrilling 90-87 win over third-seeded and 23rd-ranked Armstrong Atlantic State University, Saturday night (March 7) in the semifinals of the 2009 Peach Belt Conference Men’s Basketball Tournament in Aiken, S.C.
USCA (23-6) advances to face top-seeded and fifth-ranked Augusta State University in Sunday afternoon’s championship game at 4:30 p.m. in the USCA Convocation Center.
AASU (23-6) must now await the announcement of the NCAA Division II national tournament field on Sunday night (at 9:30 p.m.).
Dollard hit on 14-of-24 shots and also grabbed nine rebounds. Senior guard Kingsley Oguchi scored 22 points and hauled down seven rebounds.
Junior forward Dwight Tolbert paced the Pirates with 21 points, while T.T. Hall and Brian Moultrie added 17 each and senior 6-6 forward Calvin Wilson tallied 14 points and 14 rebounds. Hall played 58 of 60 minutes as did point guard Gabriel Robinson, who scored nine points and handed out eight assists.
The first four-overtime game in the history of the PBC Tournament featured 18 lead changes and 14 ties. AASU had the ball at the end of each extra session, but was unable to convert the game-winning shot, while USCA’s 6-7 senior forward Brian Egwuatu blocked potential game-winning attempts at the end of the first two overtime periods.
Dollard made one of two free throws with seven seconds left in the final overtime period, allowing the Pirates a chance to force extra session No. 5, but Tolbert’s three-point attempt from the right wing was just off the mark as the final horn sounded.
AASU led by as many as five points in the first half before carrying a 37-34 advantage into the locker room at halftime.
In the second stanza, the Pirates would lead by six (44-36) until USCA responded with a 13-2 run to go ahead 51-46. Tolbert drained two free throws with six ticks remaining to force the contest into the first overtime period, tied at 63-63. He intercepted a Pacer pass seconds later, but his half-court heave at the final horn was off the back iron.
Dollard scored all seven of the Pacers’ points in the last overtime period.
USCA shot 41.3 percent (33-of-80) for the game, including 10-of-30 three point attempts, while AASU shot 39 percent (30-of-77) and 7-of-21 from long distance. The Pacers made 14-of-22 free throws, while the Pirates were 20-of-31 at the stripe.