AIKEN, S.C. – DeVontae Wright and Ronald Zimmerman combined for 46 points and the University of South Carolina Aiken men's basketball team used a late run in the first half to propel the squad past North Georgia by a 98-79 margin Monday evening.
The Pacers are now 15-2 overall, including a 7-0 mark in the Peach Belt Conference.
Leading the charge was Wright, who poured in a game-high 23 points. He was a perfect 12-of-12 from the charity stripe. Zimmerman accounted for 21 points on seven-of-11 shooting, including a five-of-seven effort from behind the three-point stripe. Paul Larsen narrowly missed out on a double-double as he tallied 10 points and nine rebounds. Shane Porchea came off the bench to hit for 10 points while Rick Alderman and Jesse Seilern had nine apiece. Alvin Brown notched eight points.
The Pacers drained 33-of-57 shots from the floor (57.9 percent), including an eight-of-16 effort (50 percent) from the three-point stripe. The team combined for 17 assists, including five from Wright. Larsen led everyone with a game-high three steals.
USC Aiken controlled the paint, outscoring the opposition 46-32. The team also held a 10-8 margin on fast break points.
After a slow start in the first half, head coach Vince Alexander's team took the lead on a lay-up by Grant Harris at the 10:19 mark for an 18-17 advantage. From there, Zimmerman canned one of his first-half three-point shots for a 21-17 lead. A free throw by Paul Larsen pushed the advantage to five at 22-17.
With the lead trimmed to two at 36-34 with 4:04 to go in the opening half, Zimmerman hit two charity tosses, Larsen made a free throw and DeVontae Wright buried a jumper for a seven-point margin with just 2:52 to play before halftime.
The Nighthawks trimmed the margin to just four at 41-37, but the Pacers rattled off 10 of the last 11 points for a 51-38 advantage. During the spurt, Larsen threw down a thunderous dunk before Zimmerman drilled a corner three. Larsen added another dunk and Zimmerman notched a deep three on a fast break for a 14-point lead. However, the visitors made a free throw with a second left in the first period for the halftime score.
In the opening half, USC Aiken registered a 24-14 advantage in the paint.
Head coach Vince Alexander's squad raced out to a 15-point edge on an outstanding spin move and dunk by Brown just 18 seconds into the second half. USC Aiken pushed its lead to 17 with 12:21 to play as Porchea converted an old-fashioned three-point play.
With 10:04 to go, Wright buried two of his free throws, making the score 77-57 in favor of the home squad. It marked the largest lead the team would have for the night.
Zimmerman pulled USC Aiken within two of the 100-point plateau with 1:36 to go on a pull-up three-point shot off a pass from Seilern, but Alexander's team did not convert on its next two possessions as the team cruised to the 19-point victory.
The Pacers return to action Wednesday when they travel to Georgia College for a 7:30 p.m., contest.