Council Jumper Lifts Pacers to Upset Victory Over Sixth-Ranked Jaguars
AIKEN, S.C. - Sterling Council hit a game-winning jumper and the USC Aiken Pacers rallied from a 10-point halftime deficit to defeat sixth-ranked Augusta State on Monday evening before a crowd of 3,298 at the Convocation Center.
The Pacers were down by three points at 68-65 with 1:28 left in the game. USC Aiken's Kevin Willis (Atlanta, Ga./Kaskaskia College) pulled the Pacers back to within one at 68-67 after collecting an offensive rebound and then hitting a lay-up with 1:10 remaining. Willis' rebound and put-back kept the Pacers within reach of their rival. On Augusta State's next offensive possession, Fred Braithwaite turned the ball over into the waiting arms of Willis with 35 seconds left.
Head Coach Vince Alexander and the Pacers promptly took a time out to collect their thoughts. On a play that was not originally drawn for him during the time out, Council calmly and collectively dribbled around the perimeter before knocking down a jumper from the right corner with 10 seconds left in the game.
The Jaguars would turn the ball over once again on their next possession with Byron Faison (Sumter, S.C./Winthrop) taking advantage of another Braithwaite miscue. Faison was then fouled by Greg Hire. Faison proficiently drained his two free throw attempts to leave the Pacers with a three-point 71-68 victory.
USC Aiken's victory over their rival gave the Jaguars their first league loss of the 2009-10 season. It also snapped a 16-game Peach Belt Conference winning streak for the Jaguars.
USC Aiken has never lost a regular season game to Augusta State in the friendly confines of the Convocation Center. The Jaguars have been ranked in the top 10 in all three of the Pacer wins. USC Aiken is 6-6 against ranked opposition over the last three years.
The victory on Monday moved the Pacers to 34-3 overall in the Convocation Center during the regular season since it opened its doors prior to the 2007-08 campaign. USC Aiken is 24-2 against PBC teams during the stretch.
USC Aiken's victory over Augusta State on Monday was the Pacers' third straight. USC Aiken is now 12-6 overall, including 7-4 in the PBC. In a nod to the Pacer defensive prowess, USC Aiken has claimed their last three victories by downing teams that all shot over 50 percent in their loss to the Pacers.
Augusta State (15-2, 7-1 PBC) shot 55.3 percent (21-for-38) from the field in their loss to the Pacers. USC Aiken shot 43.6 percent (24-for-55) from the field as a team in the win over the Jaguars.
Two Pacers finished in double figures with Council (Camden, S.C./Camden) and Seth Leonard (York, Pa./William Penn) both ending the game with double-digit totals. Council was 6-for-11 from the field en route to a team-best 15 points. He also had three assists and four steals.
Leonard procured 14 points and eight boards in the win over the Jaguars.
Augusta State was led by Peach Belt Conference Player of the Year candidate Ben Madgen, who netted a game-high 24 points.
The Pacer men will next step out of conference for a home game against King College on Saturday, Jan. 30. Tip-off at the Convocation Center is set for 3 p.m.