March 9, 2014 COLUMBUS, Ga. – The No. 7 University of South Carolina Aiken men’s basketball team won its second straight conference tournament title with a 61-59 victory over Montevallo in the Peach Belt Conference Championship Sunday afternoon.
The Pacers are now 29-3 on the season.
Leading the way for the victors was DeVontae Wright, who was named PBC Tournament MVP. He tallied 18 points, including the game-winning fade-away jumper with 29 seconds remaining to go along with four rebounds and two assists. Jesse Seilern started the contest off in fine style, netting 12 points in the first half.
Alvin Brown added 11 points, seven rebounds and three blocks while all-tournament team selection Paul Larsen narrowly missed his third straight double-double by posting 10 points and eight rebounds.
USC Aiken jumped out to a 6-0 lead 3:01 into the contest thanks in part to Seilern’s two three-point baskets, including the first trio at the 18:07 mark.
The Falcons soared back, taking an 11-8 lead but Shane Porchea made a free throw and Seilern made two more three-point jumpers just before Larsen made a lay-up for a 17-12 advantage.
USC Aiken maintained the five-point edge at 25-20, but Montevallo embarked on an 8-2 run for a 28-27 lead. Larsen’s free throw with 60 seconds to play in the opening half tied it at 30 – and neither team would score again until the second period.
Montevallo took a two-point lead in the early going of the second half, but every time the Falcons went ahead, head coach Vince Alexander’s team had an answer.
Trailing 36-34, Wright hit back-to-back shots before Larsen’s tip-in and ensuing inside shot pushed the margin to six, 42-36.
USC Aiken stretched its lead to eight, 49-41, at the 10:36 mark when Shane Porchea completed an old-fashioned three-point basket. However, the designated visitors went on another run, taking a 54-53 lead with just 6:48 to go.
Wright’s tip-in gave the Pacers a 55-54 lead momentarily, but a three-point basket by Montevallo made it 57-55. Rick Alderman knotted the score with a nifty inside move at the 5:12 mark, but the Falcons took a two-point lead with 4:19 to play, 59-57.
Like so many times throughout the season, the Pacers’ defense stepped up down the stretch. The bucket by Shykeem Jackson at the 4:19 mark was the last time the Falcons would be able to convert in the game.
Brown’s lay-up with 2:03 to play tied it at 59 and Wright’s jumper with 29 ticks remaining gave USC Aiken what turned out to be the game-winning shot.
On the final possession, Montevallo missed three highly contested shots, including two three-point attempts.
USC Aiken is the first team to repeat as tournament champions since 2001-02. The tournament title marked the teams third in the last five seasons – and all three have come against Montevallo.
The Pacers are currently the No. 1 seed in the region and earned the league’s automatic berth by winning the PBC Championship. The team will find out its opponent at 10:30 tonight.