ASU edges USC Aiken for Peach Belt Title

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AIKEN, S.C. – March 8, 2009 – In a Peach Belt Conference Tournament championship game that more than lived up to its pre-game billing, the fifth-ranked Augusta State Jaguars won a thrilling 65-64 victory over 17th-ranked USC Aiken on Sunday at The Convocation Center.

This marks the third Peach Belt Conference Tournament championship for Augusta State (26-4), and the Jaguars’ first tournament championship since 2002. It’s also the first PBC Tournament championship for fifth-year Augusta State head coach Dip Metress.

It’s the first time that the Peach Belt Conference regular season champion also won the tournament championship since Kennesaw State pulled it off in 2004.

The game featured 11 ties and 13 lead-changes, and neither team had more than a six-point lead throughout. In the second half alone, there were nine ties and 11 lead-changes.

Augusta State built a 52-47 lead on a put-back by Caleb Brown with 8:54 left. Senior center Garrett Siler stretched the lead to six points on a 3-point play at the 8:36 mark. However, USC Aiken (23-7) rallied with an 8-0 run as the Pacers took a 57-55 lead on a driving lay-up by Javonte Clanton.

The Jaguars regained the lead on two Ben Madgen free throws with 2:53 remaining, but USC Aiken countered with a jump shot off the glass by Josh Dollard to take a 64-62 lead at the 2:03 mark.

That would be the final field goal scored by either team down the stretch. Madgen put Augusta State back up for good with two free throws with 1:25 remaining, but there was plenty of drama and excitement in the waning moments.

USC Aiken had two opportunities to go in front. However, Chris Commons missed an open 3-point attempt with 58 seconds remaining. And after getting a key defensive stop, Cordaryl Ballard had an open alley in the lane in the final seconds, but his short five-footer was off the mark.

Madgen sealed his Peach Belt Conference Tournament Most Valuable Player honors with 23 points for Augusta State. Siler scored 13 points and Daniel Dixon added 10 points for Augusta State.

For USC Aiken, Clanton scored 16 points, followed by Ballard with 15 points. Dollard and Commons each scored 14 points for the Pacers.

Joining Madgen, Dixon, Commons and Dollard on the All-Tournament team was Shaun Keaton from Georgia College and Calvin Wilson from Armstrong Atlantic.