AIKEN — Alvin Brown and his USC Aiken weren’t ready to suffer any upsets Saturday night.
The fifth-ranked Pacers jumped on Limestone early and never looked back in an 80-54 win in the opening round of the NCAA Division II Tournament at the USC Aiken Convocation Center.
With the victory, USC Aiken advanced to play Georgia Regents in the Southeast Regional semifinals at 7:30 tonight.
The Pacers (30-3), the Peach Belt Conference regular season and tournament champs, extended their winning streak to 12 games and posted their first 30-win in school history.
“Every win is just building more confidence in this team,” Brown said. “We don’t take losing as an option.”
USC Aiken wasn’t close to losing. DeVontae Wright posted 16 points and seven assists, while Ronald Zimmerman added 14 points. Brown added nine points, 10 rebounds and four blocks, while Rick Alderman added 10 points and nine boards.
The Pacers’ interior players dominated around the glass, with USC Aiken out-rebounding Limestone, 56-34. Also, the Pacers posted nine blocks and never allowed the Saints to get on track offensively.
Limestone (21-9), the Conference Carolinas tournament champion, shot 28 percent from the field, including a 6 for 23 effort from the perimeter. Asaad Woods led the Saints with 15 points, while Shaq Dance added 13 points.
“We’re going to try to continue to raise our defense to another level,” USC Aiken coach Vince Alexander said. “Of course, we have Alvin and that helps a whole lot.”
Saints guard P.J. Foster, the Division II leader in made 3-pointers (152) this season, was held well below his 20.1 scoring average. With Wright, Zimmerman, Shane Porchea and Grant Harris guarding Foster, he shot 3 of 12 from the field, including a 3 of 10 effort from the perimeter, for 9 points. Foster injured himself when he fouled Zimmerman on a fast-break layup with 9:57 remaining. He sat on the bench the rest of the game with iced taped to his left ankle. Later, Foster said he had a mild ankle sprain.
“They really did their job with the scouting report,” Foster said. “I barely had room to shoot. I was just trying to find space.”
Alexander said: “He’s a really good shooter. We didn’t want him to come in here and have a big night on us.
“I thought our guys did a great job of defending him.”
USC Aiken dominated early on, with Zimmerman and Seilern popping three 3-pointers the first five minutes. The Pacers then established their inside game, going on a 24-9 midway through the first half to create separation. After an Alderman layup, the Pacers led 32-15.
USC Aiken held Limestone to 26 percent shooting from the field in the first half en route to a 43-22 lead at intermission.
“Obviously, USC Aiken is an incredible opponent,” Limestone coach Brandon Scott said. “Foul trouble killed us in the first half. We weren’t able to take (Brown) away from the rim like we wanted to.”