No. 10 Pacers Top No. 7 ASU, 78-74

No. 10 Pacers Top No. 7 ASU, 78-74

AIKEN, S.C.. -- USC Aiken's Sterling Council hit two free throws with three seconds left to seal the Pacers' 78-74 Peach Belt Conference victory over No. 7 Augusta State Monday night in the USCA Convocation Center.

The loss snapped ASU's five-game winning streak while the Pacers earned a split in the season series. Aiken remained perfect on its home floor, improving to 20-0. The Jags dropped to 14-6 under head coach Dip Metress vs. nationally-ranked opponents.

Senior center Garret Siler paced ASU (12-3, 6-2) with 22 points and three blocks. Junior guard Ben Madgen tallied 20 points and four steals and junior forward Fred Brathwaite netted 12 points and three assists.

Junior forward Josh Dollard led the 10th-ranked Pacers (14-3, 6-1 PBC) with a game-high 23 points and 11 rebounds. Senior forward Chris Commons booked 20 points, while Javonte Clanton added 15 points and four assists.

The contest – the second-ever top-10 matchup in Peach Belt Conference history -- featured 68 combined free throws and 54 fouls. The crowd of 3,569 was the largest to ever witness a USC Aiken athletic event

ASU led 33-31 at the half and after Siler's dunk put ASU up 35-31 at the 19:38 mark, he picked up his third and fourth fouls 23 seconds apart, the latter with 18:26 remaining. Dollard connected on two free throws to move the Pacers ahead 36-35.

A pair of Madgen baskets sandwiched a Steve Smith 3-pointer for a 42-39 ASU lead, but Dollard countered with a three-point play to knot the game at 42-all.

The Jags regained the lead on a layup by Brathwaite with 16:23 to go before a Clanton free throw and layup moved the Pacers back in front and ignited a 9-0 run. A pair of Dollard free throws at the 12:33 mark gave the hosts a 52-44 advantage.

Aiken led by nine after a Dollard jumper with 11:28 to play before ASU battled back with an 8-2 spurt. The Jags got within three of the lead six different times, the last on a pair of Siler free throws with 1:03 left.

Commons answered with a layup with 43 seconds left before Madgen drained a trey from the left wing with :30 remaining.

Free throws from Kingsley Oguchi and Clanton put the Pacers up 76-72 and Brathwaite scored on a putback with four seconds to go. Forced to foul, the Jags sent Council to the line, and swished both attempts for the final margin.

ASU plays host to Francis Marion in a PBC matchup on Wednesday, Jan. 21 at 7:30 p.m. in Christenberry Fieldhouse.

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