AIKEN — USC Aiken coach Vince Alexander didn’t hesitate to make a few substitutions early in Monday night’s 81-74 win over Georgia Southwestern. Though his five starters were on the floor, Alexander said he turned to the bench and saw a few more starters ready to go.
“They’re coming off the bench and bringing a great spark for us,” he said. “A lot of times (other teams) have their starters out there and we’ll bring those guys in and we’re actually bringing in starters when they’re bringing in reserves. I think it helps us.”
The Pacers got 48 points from the bench while holding Georgia Southwestern’s reserves to just six in another Peach Belt Conference victory. Junior backup forward Rick Alderman played only 20 minutes but led the Pacers with 17 points.
With the Hurricanes playing without 6-foot-7 senior forward and leading scorer Phillip Brown, the Pacers attacked the post and Alderman had the mismatch. He hit 6 of 7 shots from the field, converted 5 of 6 free throws and added four rebounds.
“It just comes with the offense,” he said. “We have so many shooters on the outside that it takes so much attention away from us and opens the middle.”
Alderman got all his points from the post or the free-throw line and scored his final bucket with 10 minutes left in the game. By then, the Hurricanes’ in-game adjustments included double-teaming the forward, leaving the guards open on the perimeter.
Guard Re’mon Nelson took advantage, scoring 10 of his 15 points in the second half.
A sloppy game with 49 turnovers and 52 fouls saw USC Aiken make the best of its second-chance opportunities. The Pacers outscored Georgia Southwestern 38-19 in points off turnovers.
Though Georgia Southwestern got 30 points from guard Evan Mobley and 24 from Collin Slotter out of a four-guard starting lineup, they had few answers for USC Aiken’s post presence. Along with Alderman’s career night, forward Joel Gierbolini added 10 points and eight rebounds.
Starting forward Jeremiah Pojah saw limited playing time, but he electrified the crowd with a drop-step dunk over 6-foot-10 center Milos Kleut to draw the foul and give the Pacers a 68-56 lead with 3:43 to play.
A barage of late 3-pointers helped the Hurricanes climb from a 16-point deficit with eight minutes left to a four-point game in the final minute, but the Pacers were able to fend off the upset bid with free-throw shooting.
USC Aiken hit the same number of shots from the field (24) as its opponent and half as many 3-pointers, but the Pacers went 27 for 37 from the free-throw line.