March 17, 2009

AUGUSTA, Ga. - USC Aiken's first ever appearance in the Sweet Sixteen of the NCAA Division II Men's Basketball Tournament ended in heartbreak with rival Augusta State earning an 85-57 victory before a crowd of 2,721 on Tuesday evening at Christenberry Fieldhouse.

The loss concludes the most successful two-year run in USC Aiken history with the Pacers owning a 52-12 record over the past two seasons. USC Aiken ends its 2008-09 campaign with a 25-8 record.

The Pacers after the loss to Augusta State on Tuesday are now 3-3 all-time in NCAA Tournament action. USC Aiken advanced to its first ever Sweet Sixteen by downing Lenoir-Rhyne in the quarterfinals of the regional. They then advanced to the regional finals by defeating Catawba in the semifinals.

USC Aiken was led in the loss by junior transfer Josh Dollard (Hemingway, S.C./Auburn), who finished with a team-best 16 points. Dollard was 8-for-8 from the charity stripe in the game.

Senior guard Kingsley Oguchi (Houston, Texas/George Bush) was the only other Pacer in double digits in the game. The four-year starter concluded his Pacer career with 12 points in the contest. He was 5-for-12 from the floor in Tuesday's game, hitting two three-pointers.

Senior Chris Commons (Toledo, Ohio/Findlay) only had eight points in the game, but it was enough to help him usurp the 2,000-point plateau as a college basketball player. The two-time Peach Belt Conference Player of the Year concludes his illustrious career with 2,002 career points.

Commons for his efforts in Tuesday's win and the entire NCAA Division II Southeast Regional was tabbed as a member of the Southeast Regional All-Tournament team. He was joined on the squad by Dollard.

Fellow Southeast Regional All-Tournament team members from Augusta State Ben Madgen and Garret Siler ended the win over USC Aiken on Tuesday with 25 points each. The nation's best shooter from the field, Siler was 9-for-12 in the win over the Pacers. Madgen was even better, knocking down six of his seven shots. He was 11-for-11 from the free throw line.

The Jaguars in total concluded Tuesday's victory shooting 60.9 percent. The Pacers shot 43.8 percent in the game.

The Jaguars rushed out to an early 9-2 lead, forcing USC Aiken head coach Vince Alexander to take a time out with exactly 17 minutes left in the first half.

The Jaguar advantage was 11 points at 15-4 by the 13:30, but Oguchi squashed an almost four-minute scoreless stretch for the Pacers by knocking down a tough three-pointer from the right corner. Oguchi then stole the basketball on the Jaguars next offensive possession to cut the Augusta State lead to six points at 15-9.

The Jaguars did not back off though as their lead was ten again six minutes later at 21-11.

Almost singlehandedly over the next couple of minutes, Seth Leonard (York, Pa./William Penn) kept the Pacers in the game, scoring six straight points for the Pacers.

Nevertheless, the Jaguars were still on top by eleven points at 28-17 by the fourth and final media time out of the first half at the 3:15 mark.

Dollard's driving lay-up off an offensive rebound with under 20 seconds to play in the first half pulled USC Aiken back to within nine points at 36-27 at intermission.

The Jaguars kept finding ways over the opening minutes to stay on top as their lead was 15 points at 52-37 with just over six minutes gone in the second half. Augusta State kept pouring things on from there, going up by as many as 21 at 58-37 with just over 12 minutes left in the game.

The teams kept trading baskets over the next four minutes with each only able to secure four points to set the game still in Augusta State's favor by four points at 62-41 with 7:58 left in the contest.

Unfazed by USC Aiken's aspirations to try and get back into the contest, Augusta State continued its charge through the latter minutes of the game. Madgen hit a three-pointer from the left corner with just under six minutes to go in the game to give Augusta State it largest lead of the game up to that point at 71-46. The ASU lead was 27 points at 75-48 with 3:21 left in the game.

The game would end with the Jaguars running out the clock on roughly every offensive possession from that point forward en route to the 85-57 victory.