USC Aiken captures Peach Belt crown

USC Aiken 65, Montevallo 60
USC Aiken players and coaches pose with the Peach Belt Conference Tournament championship trophy Sunday in Columbus, Ga.



USC Aiken ovecame another second-half deficit to claim the Peach Belt Conference Tournament championship Sunday.

Re’mon Nelson scored 16 of his game-high 20 points after halftime and the Pacers roared back for a 65-60 win over Montevallo in Columbus, Ga.

“We were certainly tested. My faith was tested,” USC Aiken coach Vince Alexander said. “By the grace of God, these guys turned the pressure up and got things turned around.”

The Pacers (22-7), the league’s regular season champions, overcame a late deficit to upend North Georgia in the semifinals one night earlier. Against the Falcons, USC Aiken rallied from a 14-point deficit with 14:30 remaining in the game to claim their third Peach Belt Tournament title (1993, 2010). The Pacers shot just 36 percent from the field, but they took advantage of the foul line in the second half, draining 15 of 18 attempts.

Ronald Zimmerman kick-started an 18-5 run with a jumper and a 3-pointer. DeVontae Wright added a 3-pointer and two free throws during the spurt. Then, Paul Larsen capped the run with a layup, staking the Pacers to a 47-45 lead.

Nelson later snapped a 56-all tie with two free throws. With USC Aiken clinging to a three-point lead, Nelson drained a 15-foot jumper with 67 seconds remaining.

Kinley Branch came off the bench for 16 points for the Pacers, while Zimmerman added 12.

Troran Brown scored 17 points to lead Montevallo. Augusta’s Drico Hightower added 13 points and seven rebounds for the Falcons.

• In the women’s championship, top-ranked Clayton State rolled to an 81-54 win over North Georgia.

The Laker women (29-0) will play host to the Division II Tournament Southeast Regional. Drameka Griggs posted 18 points and eight steals to lead Clayton State.

North Georgia (14-15) committed 33 turnovers and shot 36 percent from the field. Jaymee Carnes led the team with 13 points.


Women’s Championship Game

Clayton State 84

North Georgia 51

Men’s Championship Game

USC Aiken 65

Montevallo 60