Hall's 33-point performance fuels Drury in quarterfinal victory against USC Aiken
LOUISVILLE, Ky. -- Alex Hall scored 33 points to help Drury squeeze past South Carolina Aiken 84-75 and into the NCAA tournament semifinals for the first time in program history.
Coach Steve Hesser's Panthers won their 21st consecutive game behind a quick start fueled by Hall, a rally after falling behind briefly early in the second half and making big stops and key buckets down the stretch.
Hall hit five 3-pointers to surpass Matt Miller's program record of 112 (1999-2000) with 114.
Drury bolted out of the gates to a 17-4 on its way to a 42-36 halftime advantage, but watched the Pacers (25-8) make their first four 3-pointers to open the second half and grab a 50-46 lead with 15:51 left.
However, Drury went on a run of its own as sophomore Cameron Adams' dunk capped a 7-0 spurt and put the Panthers back up 53-50 with 13 minutes left.
USC Aiken did not lead again. A 9-0 run by Drury pushed the margin out to 11 (68-57) with 7:06 remaining.
"I'm sitting up here right now because of these two young men and their commitment," Drury coach Steve Hesser said in the post-game press conference, referring to Hall and senior point guard Brandon Lockhart. "We talk about at the end of the year, it's about players stepping up and making plays. That's March Madness. [Alex Hall] stepped up and made some threes, B-Lock split the defense and made the key layup late. You have two four-year starters here who make me a lot smarter as a coach."
An Adams alley-oop dunk off a Hall solidified the win with 47 seconds left, giving the Panthers an 80-69 advantage.
Lockhart added 15 points and seven assists, Teddy Simniok went 7-for-7 from the field with 14 points. Adams matched Simniok with 14 points and tied Drake Patterson with a team-high seven rebounds.
Drury turned the ball over just 12 times while forcing 18 miscues by Aiken, which received a team-high 20 points from Ronald Zimmerman, including a 6-for-11 showing from 3-point range.
Re'mon Nelson added 16 points and 10 assists.
"I thought once we settled down, we were able to get some things going," Aiken coach Vince Alexander said. "But very quickly, [Re'mon Nelson] picks up two fouls, and then a third ... it's tough for us to play without him being on the floor."