MORROW, GA – The top-seeded Clayton State Lakers overcame a 12-point second-half deficit and then held on in the final moments to beat a tough USC Aiken Pacers team 73-70 in the first semifinal of the PBC Tournament on Saturday in Morrow. With the win, the Lakers (23-5) advance to Sunday's PBC Championship game for the first time since 2008. USC Aiken falls to 16-12 on the season.
The Pacers held the Lakers to 27% shooting in the first half while shooting 50% from the floor as they held a 35-26 edge at the break. Clayton State corrected in the second half, shooting 64%.
USCA's Robert Hill hit a layup with 15:13 remaining to give the Pacers a 44-32 lead. The Lakers responded with a 10-0 run over the next 4:21. Kyle Kincey scored six of those 10 for the Lakers and finished the game with 15.
The Lakers tied the game at 47 on a Dantez Bennamon three-pointer and eventually opened up a nine-point lead with under five minutes to play. USCA rallied, cutting the lead to three on three separate occasions, the last on a three-pointer from Markus Terry with 37 seconds left. Clayton State hit key free throws down the stretch to keep that margin and advance to the title game.
Bennamon led the Lakers with 19 points while Nathan Powell scored 12 and led the team with seven rebounds. Five Lakers scored in double figures overall.
Terry finished with 18 points to lead the pacers while Henry Bolton III scored 15 and Robert Hill led the team with nine rebounds.
The PBC Championship game will be played Athletics & Fitness Center at Clayton State at 2:00 pm.