Pacers take top 25 battle to advance to Regional Final

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Sunday, March 17, 2013

AIKEN, S.C. – The nationally 20th-ranked and top-seeded University of South Carolina Aiken men’s basketball team defeated national No. 25 and three seed, Wingate University, 69-57, in the second Semifinal game at the 2013 NCAA Division II Southeast Regional Sunday night.

The Pacers advance to the Southeast Regional Championship on Tuesday at 7 p.m. at the Convocation Center. USC Aiken (24-7) will face-off against Barton College in the Regional Final. The winner of the game will advance to the Elite Eight at Freedom Hall in Louisville, Ky.

The Pacers advance to the “Sweet Sixteen” for the second time in the last five years. They also advanced to the “Sweet Sixteen” in 2009 in the Southeast Regional hosted by Augusta State.

With this year’s semifinal win, USC Aiken was able to avenge a 73-70 loss to Wingate in last year’s Southeast Regional at Montevallo.

The Pacers were able to overcome a halftime deficit to earn the victory by outscoring the Bulldogs, 42-28, in the second stanza. They were able to shoot the ball significantly better in the second half, connecting on 56 percent (14-for-25) of attempts from the floor. This included a 4-for-9 performance (44.4 percent) from deep in the final period.

The game was tied nine times and saw five lead changes in all.

USC Aiken was able to go on an 11-0 run to put the game out of reach after the final tie of the game at 42-42, with 10:49 remaining. After the run, which was capped by a three-point play by Jesse Seilern, the Pacers held a 53-42 lead with eight minutes left in the game.

The Pacers were able to stretch the lead to as many as 15 before earning the 12-point victory.

Four Pacers finished in double figures in the game, led by All-Peach Belt Conference selection Ronald Zimmerman’s 15 points. Zimmerman (Columbia, S.C./Spring Valley HS) was 5-for-8 from the field and 4-for-6 from deep.

All-Peach Belt Conference selection Paul Larsen (Mooresville, N.C./Mercer) earned his 13th double-double of the game, by securing 12 points and 10 rebounds.

Santoine Butler (Augusta, Ga./Gardner-Webb) chipped in 11 points and three blocked shots in the Pacer victory.

The PBC Player of the Year, PBC Tournament MVP and 2013 Daktornics First-Team All-Region selection Re’mon Nelson was the final Pacer in double figures. Nelson (Columbus, Ohio/Canal Winchester HS) scored 10 points, corralled five boards, dished out three assists and pilfered one steal.

Seilern (Innsbruck, Austria/Kapfenberg HS) added nine points and three rebounds, and DeVontae Wright (Goose Creek, S.C./The Citadel) had six points and three assists for USC Aiken.

Two Bulldogs finished the game with double-figure scoring totals, led by Ryan Daye with 14 points and five rebounds.

Second-Team All-South Atlantic Conference selection Odell Turner finished with 13 points, seven rebounds and one blocked shot in the game.

The first half was tightly contested with four ties and two lead changes. Neither team had a lead larger than seven points.

The Bulldogs went into the halftime break with a two-point lead, 29-27, due to tough defense and the Pacers missing some open looks.

USC Aiken shot only 29.6 percent (8-for-27) from the field in the first half. The Pacers defense was tough as well, holding Wingate to 36.4 percent (12-for-33) shooting for the floor in the opening period.

The Pacers were able to shoot 90 percent (9-for-10) from the foul line in the first half to keep the game close. The Bulldogs were 3-for-4 from the line in the first half.

Daye of Wingate was the only player to score in double figures in the first half for either team. Daye tallied 10 points on 4-for-9 shooting in the first half.

Butler and Zimmerman led the Pacers in the first half, as they scored eight points apiece. Zimmerman was 2-for-3 from long range, and Butler was a perfect 4-for-4 from the line in the first half.

USC Aiken finished the game shooting 42.3 percent (22-for-52) from the floor. The Pacers shot 33.3 percent (6-for-18) from long range, and 76 percent (19-for-25) from the foul line.

Wingate (22-9) ended the game making 38.3 percent (23-for-60) of its shots from the field. The Bulldogs were 23.1 percent (3-for-13) behind the arc and 80 percent (8-for-10) form the charity stripe.

Box Score:

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