M. Basketball

USC Aiken Ends Lenior-Rhyne's Season With A 88-70 Win In The 2009 NCAA Division II Southeast Region Men's Basketball Tournament

Josh Rudder leads the way for L-R with 24 points

Senior guard Josh Rudder leads the Bears with 24 points despite the 88-70 setback to USC Aiken to end the seasonSenior guard Josh Rudder leads the Bears with 24 points despite the 88-70 setback to USC Aiken to end the season

Augusta, Ga. - No. 16-ranked and second-seeded USC Aiken shot a season-high 67.3 percent from the floor, hitting 33-of-49 shots en route to an 88-70 first-round victory over Lenoir-Rhyne at the 2009 NCAA DII Southeast Regional in Augusta, Ga., on Saturday afternoon.

The Pacers (24-7) advance to the semifinals to face No. 6 seed Catawba at 5:00 p.m. on Sunday afternoon. Lenoir-Rhyne (18-11) sees its season come to an end in its fifth NCAA berth and second straight season advancing to the Regionals.

USC Aiken placed five players in double figures, led by All-American Chris Commonsí 27 points on 12-of-15 shooting from the floor. Javonte Clanton added 19 points, including a perfect 11-of-11 from the free throw line, while Kingsley Oguchi chipped in 13 points, Cordaryl Ballard added 11 and Josh chipped in 10.

For Lenoir-Rhyne, senior guard Josh Rudder (Graham, N.C./Southern Alamance HS) single-handedly kept the Bears within sight of the Pacers with a team-high 24 points on 6-of-8 shooting from the floor, including two three-pointers, and 10-of-11 from the free throw line. Sophomore forward D.J. Blackmon (Albemarle, N.C./Pfeiffer Univ.) added 14 points and Marcus Hodges chipped in 13.

Commons set the tone in the first half, hitting 7-of-8 shots from the floor, leading all scorers with 17 points before intermission. Sometimes drawing four players when he had the ball in his hands, the Toledo, Ohio, native made back-to-back layups late in the first half to push the lead to 35-24 with 3:24 remaining. Dollard ended the half with an exclamation three-pointer with three seconds left, giving the Pacers a 14-point lead at intermission.

In the second half, the Pacers only slightly cooled from the floor, hitting 16-of-24 shots (66.7 percent) and building a 62-42 lead on an Oguchi three-pointer with 11:23 left. Five straight points by Rudder, capped by a three-point play, would bring the Bears to within 12, 76-64, with 4:27 remaining but that would be as close as Lenoir-Rhyne would get.

USC Aikenís 67.3 percent from the floor was a season high, and the Pacers also hit 6-of-12 from three-point range (50 percent) and 16-of-21 shots from the free throw line (76.2 percent).

Lenoir-Rhyne hit 46.2 percent from the floor on the game (24-of-52 shots) and hit 6-of-16 shots from three-point range (37.5 percent). USC Aiken held a 32-17 edge in rebounding in the game.

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