GREENWOOD, S.C. - Augusta State University shot 53% (26-49) from the floor, including 60% (15-25) in the second half to rally for a 79-73 victory over USC Aiken in the semifinals of the Men’s Peach Belt Conference Tournament Friday night at Lander’s Horne Arena. Augusta State (19-9), the top seed from the PBC North Division, advances Saturday’s championship game against the winner of the Armstrong Atlantic State/Columbus State game.
Both teams came out firing in the first half as USC Aiken (16-12) hit eight of its first nine shots, while Augusta State hit six of its first eleven from the floor. Neither team led by more than five points in the first half. USC Aiken shot 50% (6-12) from three point range in the first half but only led by two points at 39-37 as the two teams went to the locker room. Eric Dugans went 5-8 from the floor and led the Pacers with 14 points at the break, while Festus Hawkins scored 12 points to lead the Jaguars.
The lead sea-sawed for much of the second half, but Augusta State used an 11-4 to take its largest lead of the night at 70-62 with 3:19 to play as Festus Hawkins scored five straight points. The Pacers would get within two points a couple times down the stretch, but the Jaguars never lost the lead the rest of the way. Hawkins led all scorers with 23 points after going 6-10 from the floor and 11-14 from the charity stripe. Gary Boodnikoff added 17 points, while T.J. Ott scored 16 for the Jaguars. Dugans led the Pacers with 17 points.
Augusta State makes its third trip to the PBC Tournament Championship game, and first since 1999.