January 21, 2012

Saints Hold Late Lead but Fall 77-71 at No. 19 USC Aiken

Contact David Beall, jdbeall@northgeorgia.edu

AIKEN, SC – The North Georgia men's basketball team dropped their sixth straight on Saturday evening, falling 77-71 at 19th-ranked USC Aiken in the Convocation Center in Peach Belt Conference action.

The Pacers (13-3, 7-1), ranked No. 19 in the latest NABC Division II Top 25 Poll, bounced back from their first conference loss and sit atop the PBC East Division standings. The Saints (7-11, 2-5) continue to struggle in conference action, losing five straight league games since opening the PBC slate 2-0.

North Georgia seemed to be in control with 4:15 remaining when Clarence Tillman connected on a pair of free throws to give the Saints a five-point lead, but the Pacers had the last laugh, answering with a 13-0 run to regain the lead and hold off the upset bid by the Saints.

The Pacers' run was fueled by back-to-back three pointers in a 15 second span to quickly erase North Georgia's five-point lead and give USC Aiken all the momentum and a lead they would never relinquish.

The Saints managed to connect on just one field goal over the final five minutes of action.

USC Aiken's Re'mon Nelson led all scorers, putting up 22 points on a 4-for-7 shooting from long range and a 6-for-8 performance from the charity stripe. Ronald Zimmerman scored seven of his 12 points from the free throw line, and Jesse Seilern was the only other Pacer in double figures, adding 10 points in 33 minutes of action.

Tillman led the North Georgia offense once again, scoring 21 points and chipping in a trio of assists. He was also active on the defensive side of the ball tallying a game-high five steals.

The Saints never led in the first half, trailing by as many as 12 points before rallying down the stretch with an 11-0 run to pull to within a bucket at 33-31. North Georgia held their first lead of the game with 8:21 remaining with a layup from Elijah Smith and ran their lead to as many as six points before the Pacers came alive and rallied for the win.

The Saints now return home for back-to-back games at Memorial Hall. North Georgia welcomes in Armstrong Atlantic on Wednesday, before Flagler comes calling on Saturday for Homecoming in Dahlonega.