USC Aiken Fights, But Falls 83-73 to FMU in PBC Opener
FLORENCE, S.C. - USC Aiken's men's basketball team battled back from a late double-digit deficit, but their efforts would come up just short in an 83-73 loss to Francis Marion in their Peach Belt Conference opener at the Smith University Center on Wednesday evening.
The loss was the third straight for the Pacers, who are now 2-3
on the 2009-10 season. The loss drops the Pacers to 0-1 in PBC
The loss on Wednesday also means that the Pacers, who have become a national force in Division II over the past couple of years, fall below .500 for the first time since their final game of the 2006-07 season.
Francis Marion is now 7-1 on the 2009-10 season, including 1-0 now in the PBC.
Both teams started the contest a little sluggishly, but thanks to two consecutive mid-range jumpers from sophomore Sterling Council (Camden, S.C./Camden) the Pacers held a four-point 14-10 advantage with 9:59 left in the first half.
Francis Marion went on a 9-2 spurt over the next minute and a half to hold a 19-16 lead with just over eight minutes remaining in the first stanza. USC Aiken's Mark Brown (Charlotte, N.C./Hickory Grove Christian) squashed the Patriot run with a three-pointer that evened the game at 19-19.
Francis Marion from there would take control for the rest of the first half, going on a 20-8 run to close out the first half that earned them a 12-point 39-27 lead at intermission.
Council ended the first half leading the Pacers in points with six. He was part of a collective effort in the first half that saw the Pacers shot 44.7 percent.
Francis Marion ended the first half of play shooting 44.7 percent. The Patriots were led by Kaylan Anderson's 14 points. Anderson was 6-for-10 from the floor in the first half.
The second half commenced with USC Aiken scoring the first four points to pull back to within eight at 39-31. The Patriots at the time would not let the Pacers get any closer, pushing their lead to 14 points at 53-39 with 13:58 left in the game.
With Seth Leonard (York, Pa./William Penn) leading the way by scoring 12 of USC Aiken's first 16 points in the second half the Pacers continued to whittle away, having cut the lead to 11 points at 54-43 by the 11:23 mark of the second half.
The Patriots would push their lead to 16, but the Pacers would battle back down the stretch to still sit just 11 points back of FMU at 73-62 with 2:21 left in the game.
Casey McMasters (Harrisburg, Pa./Central Dauphin) a minute later pulled the Pacers to within 10 at 75-65 on a three-pointer from the right corner. McMasters then hit another three-pointer moments later from almost the same identical spot to cut the Patriot lead to seven points at 75-68 with 58 seconds left in the contest.
That would be as close as the Pacers would be able to come with the Patriots emerging with the 10-point 83-73 victory.
USC Aiken ended the contest shooting 36.9 percent (24-for-65) from the field as a team. Francis Marion in turn shot 50 percent (33-for-66).
Leonard led the Pacers in the loss with 19 points and five rebounds. He also had three steals and three assists.
In total, three Pacers ended their night in double figures with McMasters and Council both ending with 10 points each.
Five different Patriots ended their night in double figures with Anderson leading the way with 18 points.
USC Aiken next closes out its week by playing host to in-state rival and Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference power Benedict at 1:30 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 5 at the Convocation Center.
Live stats and a free live webcast will be available for Pacer fans who are unable to attend the game. The live stats and webcast can be accessed for free by clicking on the live stats link and the video link at www.pacersports.com.