USC Aiken’s NCAA Division II Tournament run came to a close late Thursday night.
The 20th-ranked Pacers got off to a slow start and never fully recovered, falling to No. 7 Drury, 84-75, in the Elite Eight at Freedom Hall in Louisville, Ky.
The Panthers (29-4) will advance to play defending national champion Western Washington in the Final Four at 2:30 p.m. Saturday.
USC Aiken, the Peach Belt Conference regular season and tournament champion as well as Southeast Regional champion, finishes its season at 25-8.
USC Aiken committed three turnovers the first two minutes and eventually fell down 17-4.
The Pacers, who failed to make a field goal the first seven minutes of the contest, bounced back and trailed by six at halftime.
USC Aiken junior guard Ronald Zimmerman opened the second half with three 3-pointers in a 65-second stretch to give USC Aiken its first lead at 47-46.
With another three, Zimmerman extended the Pacer lead to four with 15:51 remaining.
Zimmerman finished the game with a team-high 20 points on 6 of 11 shooting.
All-American guard Alex Hall led Drury with 33 points, shooting 12 for 12 from the foul line.
The Panthers went on a 22-7 midway through the second half to establish a 68-57 lead.
USC Aiken senior guard Re’mon Nelson, the Peach Belt player of the year, picked up three fouls in the first half. Nelson finished with 16 points on 5 for 17 shooting, adding 10 assists.
Pacers forward Paul Larsen added 15 rebounds and seven points. Santoine Butler chipped in with six points, while Jesse Seilern shot 0 for 4 from the field for zero points.
USC Aiken’s DeVontae Wright came off the bench, playing 36 minutes with Nelson in foul trouble. Wright posted 10 points and five rebounds.
Derrick Scott added nine points off the bench off 4 for 4 shooting.