AIKEN - A day that should have been full of celebration at USC Aiken ended in a bit of a shock Sunday night after the NCAA Division II Tournament bids were revealed.
The Lady Pacers, who won their first ever Peach Belt Conference tournament championship Sunday afternoon, were further rewarded with a No. 1 seed and the right to play host to the Southeast Regional. The Pacer men, however, were denied a chance at a similar setup.
The USC Aiken men’s basketball team entered the conference tournament as the regional’s No. 1 seed and thought they’d hold onto the top spot and the right to home-court advantage. But the Pacers’ double-overtime loss in the conference tournament semifinals, combined with Montevallo’s finals win, was enough to lift Montevallo (24-7) from fourth to first, giving the Falcons the top seed.
“I certainly think we deserved the No. 1 seed,” Pacer coach Vince Alexander said. “Going into the tournament, we were (No. 1) and Montevallo was fourth. Not being on the committee anymore, I don’t know how they went from fourth to one in a situation like that.”
The Pacers (21-7) will head to Montevallo, Ala. later this week as a No. 2 seed, despite beating Montevallo in overtime in the two team's only meeting this season. USC Aiken will face seventh-seeded Wingate in the first round.
The Augusta State men were left out completely after posting a 17-11 record that included a conference tournament semifinals loss to eventual tournament champion Montevallo.
The Lady Pacers, who lost by 10 at Clayton State in the regular season but knocked off the No. 3 Lady Lakers by 5 in Sunday’s Peach Belt Conference finals, will play host to the Southeast Regional, which makes up the first three rounds of the NCAA Division II Tournament.
“It’s a dream come true,” coach Mike Brandt said. “It’s something we set out for at the beginning of the year. We’re elated to be hosting and continuing our season.”
The women’s first round will start Friday at the USC Aiken Convocation Center. The Lady Pacers will face eighth-seeded Catawba.