No. 5 USC AIKEN 80 LIMESTONE 54

The ides of March and Limestone were no match for host USC Aiken in the first round of the NCAA Division II Southeast Regional on Saturday, as the Pacers rolled to an 80-54 win.


Vince Alexander, head coach for the Pacers (30-3), said that establishing a hold on the game at the Convocation Center was among the team's targets.


“Our goal was by the first seven minutes of the game, to have control of the first half, and by the first seven minutes of the second half, to have control of the game,” he said.


USCA hit both marks against the Saints (21-9), as the home team – ranked No. 5 nationally – was up 17-8 with a little more than seven minutes gone by at the start the game. The Pacers had a 21-point lead by the time Alexander's second-half benchmark came.


“They were tremendous,” said Limestone head coach Brandon Scott. “They imposed their will.”


In the first half, the Pacers used a balanced offensive attack that continued throughout the game. In addition to a pair of 3-pointers each from Ron Zimmerman and Jesse Seilern, 6-foot-10 senior Alvin Brown notched nine points, six rebounds and three blocks before halftime. In all, five Pacers had six points or more before the break.


Brown, who finished with nine points, 10 rebounds and four blocks, said his teammates' assistance allows him to leave his assignment and go for blocks when opponents are preparing to shoot.


“I know at that time I can leave my man and just go for it,” said Brown, who leads the country with an average of four blocks per game.


Scott said the Saints' coaching staff felt they had a plan to keep Brown from sitting back and guard the rim. But early fouls spoiled that strategy. Starting post players Jamal McNeill and Asaad Woods had three fouls before halftime and forced Scott to turn to his bench.


“The foul trouble killed us in the first half,” he said. “We weren't able to bring (Brown) away from the rim.”


The Pacers led by 21 by halftime, and their advantage never dipped below 15 points during the game's final 17 minutes.


The Saints came into the game hitting 10 3-pointers per game, good for 11th in the country. But the Pacers held them to just six on Saturday, although they still hoisted 23 attempts. In addition, USCA capitalized on a size advantage and pulled down 56 rebounds to Limestone's 34.


Contributing to that effort was Paul Larsen as well as Rick Alderman with nine each.


Alexander said that the 25 offensive rebounds the Pacers pulled down were another key of his gameplan coming into the matchup.


“We've got good guys who go after those boards,” he said. “Make me look I know what I'm talking about with I tell them that's a key.”


The Pacers were led in scoring by DeVontae Wright with 16 points, and he also led the way with seven assists. The senior point guard, whom Alexander called an “iron man” for the team, appeared to injure his hand, but Alexander said he hoped that wouldn't be an issue going forward.


Zimmerman added 14 points for the home team, and Alderman scored 10 points. In all, eight Pacers scored five points or more in the win.


The Pacers will now turn their attention to regional semifinal opponent GRU Augusta, which beat Anderson in Saturday's final game. Even with a rivalry match looming in today's 7:30 p.m. game, Alexander said he told his players not to spend much time thinking about who they'd play until they knew for sure.


“Whoever wins is going to win, and we'll face whoever we're going to face,” he said following the Pacers' win.


Jeremy Timmerman has a journalism degree from Mercer University. Follow him on Twitter @ASJTimm.