MILLEDGEVILLE, Ga. – The University of South Carolina Aiken men’s basketball team dropped a 65-55 decision at Georgia College in the Peach Belt Conference opener for both teams Wednesday afternoon.
The Pacers are 2-6 overall, including an 0-1 mark against league foes. The Bobcats improve to 8-2 on the year and 1-0 mark against conference competition.
Head coach Mark Vanderslice’s team was led by the dyad ofKeith Belfield and Arbry Butler, who registered 17 and 15 points, respectively. Butler notched a double-double by pulling down a game-best 11 rebounds while also swatting away a game-high three shots in 36 minutes of action.
Belfield opened the game with a deep three-point shot off a pass from Stephenson just 13 seconds in. Vanderslice’s squad held a 5-3 advantage on a jumper by Patton and regained a 7-5 lead on a lay-up from Emu off a pass from Stephenson. However, the Bobcats embarked on an 11-1 run that spanned nearly three minutes of game time, taking a 16-8 lead at the 11:17 mark.
USC Aiken trailed by as many as 11 in the opening half, but cut the margin to 10 when Butler canned the second of two free throw attempts with three seconds to play before intermission.
The Pacers were unable to cut the deficit under nine points in the early going, but four straight points off baskets from Foster and Stephenson made it 36-31 with 12:12 to play. Vanderslice’s team trimmed the margin to three points after an old-fashioned three-point play by Stephenson with 9:42 to go.
The Bobcats pushed the score back to a 10-point game at 53-43 with 4:40 to go. Belfield’s three-ball pulled the team within seven at 59-52 with 1:51 to play, but the team could only get as close as seven in the final two minutes of action.
For the game, USC Aiken connected on 20-of-55 shots from the floor, including four-of-16 from downtown. The Bobcats netted 24-of-49 shots from the field, including a nine-of-16 effort from behind the three-point stripe.
Vanderslice’s team out-rebounded the home squad 39-29, including a 19-6 effort on the offensive glass. The Pacers scored 19 points off 11 Georgia College turnovers and outscored the home squad 24-20 in the paint.
USC Aiken was outscored 26-4 off the bench.
The Pacers return to action Saturday when they play at Columbus State at 3:30 p.m. Live stats and video will be available at PacerSports.com.