USC Aiken holds off Bearcats in final minutes, 92-84

Corey Wright
Corey Wright

AIKEN - The Lander men's basketball team went on an 18-4 run in the last 6:30 of the game Saturday, but still couldn't catch USC Aiken, which downed the Bearcats, 92-84, in a Peach Belt Conference game in the Convocation Center.

USCA improves to 18-6 overall and 12-4 in the PBC, while Lander drops to 16-8, 9-7.

Dwight Tolbert connected on 10-of-16 field goals, including 6-of-12 threes, to lead the Bearcats with a game-high 27 points. Corey Wright posted a double-double with 16 points and 10 assists and Dennis Rumph added 16 points and seven rebounds.

Jesse Seilern led the Pacers with 16 points, while Ronald Zimmerman added 14, Joel Gierbolini 13 and Terrance Dent 11. Re'mon Nelson added 12 assists and nine points.

After the two teams were tied for the fifth time at 22-22 with 12:20 left in the first half, USCA went on a 13-2 run and posted a 35-24 lead on a Seilern layup with 9:29 left in the half.

The Pacers led by 13 points again at 39-26 and 41-28 when the Bearcats started chipping away at the lead. A Jermel Kennedy three-point play at 3:36 cut the margin to 43-34 and Rumph dropped in a pair of free throws to make it 43-36.

But that was as close as the Bearcats would get before halftime where the Pacers held a 48-39 advantage.

The Pacers held a double-digit for most of the first 10 minutes of the second half and built the margin to 17 points at 75-58 with 10:07 left in the game.

After Lander cut it to 75-64 on a Darion Canty layup with 8:38 left to play, USCA scored seven straight points and claimed its largest lead at 18 points -- 82-64 -- on a Gierbolini dunk with 6:35 left.

Rumph began the rally with a layup at 6:07 that made it 82-66, then blocked a Rick Alderman layup that Wright converted on the other end.

Tolbert added a three, Wright went in for another layup, then Tolbert converted on a three-point play to make it 82-76 with 2:52 to play.

After a Zimmerman bucket gave USCA an 84-76 lead, Tolbert hit two more threes to cut the lead to 86-82 at 1:30.

But that was as close as the Bearcats would get.

The Bearcats made 32-of-52 floor shots for 61.5 percent, including 6-of-15 threes for 40 percent. The Bearcats sank 14-of-22 free throws for 63.6 percent.

USCA connected on 34-of-58 field goals fro 58.6 percent, including 11-of-18 threes for 61.1 percent. The Pacers also made 13-of-17 foul shots for 76.5 percent.