USC Aiken dominates Francis Marion for third straight conference win

Courtesy: USC Aiken Athletics

AIKEN, S.C. — The University of South Carolina Aiken men’s basketball team erupted for a 18-2 lead in the early moments and netted a 90-74 victory over Francis Marion Wednesday in a Peach Belt Conference contest.

The Pacers improve to 9-4 overall and 3-3 in league play. The Patriots fall to 5-9 overall and 1-5 against conference foes.

Head coach Mark Vanderslice‘s team was paced by a game-high effort of 23 points by Jalin Barnes in 29 minutes of work. Christian Nobles accounted for 21 points while Mark Matthews added a double-double with 14 points and a game-high 13 rebounds. Robert Hill nearly had a double-double with 13 points and eight boards.

Kevin Chuisseu snagged eight rebounds while Nenad Milenkovic posted six points and six rebounds.

USC Aiken took a 3-0 lead just seven seconds in off a three-ball from Nobles while Matthews was credited with an assist. The Pacers never looked back.

Matthews drained a three-point shot and hit a lay-up for an 8-0 edge just 1:16 into the game. Nobles made a lay-up and Barnes nailed a shot from downtown for a 13-0 margin at the 18:05 mark. The Pacers increased the lead to 18-2 on a jumper by Nobles with 14:55 to play.

Although the Patriots made it a deficit of under 10 momentarily, a three-pointer from Paris Ballinger pushed the score to 28-16.

FMU did pull within three at 32-29, but Barnes answered with an old-fashioned three-point play. The Pacers went into the second half with a 41-35 advantage.

Solid defense allowed USC Aiken to take a 53-38 lead on a lay-up by Nobles with 15:40 to play.

Leading 64-50, Hill hit a jumper at the 9:35 mark. After a turnover, Milenkovic took a pass from Ballinger and nailed a three-ball for a 19-point lead. Faison Brock‘s free throw pushed the score to 70-50 before Milenkovic dialed up another shot from distance and a 23-point margin.

The Patriots made it a 78-64 contest with 3:41 to go, but Nobles hit four straight free throws and Barnes connected on an inside shot as the advantage ballooned to 84-64.

FMU tried to foul and extend the game, but the Pacers calmly connected on their free throw attempts en route to the 16-point win.

For the game, USC Aiken hit 29-of-65 from the floor (44.6 percent), including seven-of-25 from downtown (28.0 percent). The squad was outstanding at the charity stripe, hitting 25-of-29 (86.2 percent).

USC Aiken held a 48-33 advantage on the glass. Additionally, the squad had a 40-32 margin in the paint. Vanderslice’s team posted a 20-17 margin in points off turnovers, a 13-11 edge in second-chance points and a 21-15 lead in fast-break opportunities.

The Pacers return to action Saturday when they host Georgia Southwestern at 7:30 p.m. Live stats and video will be available at

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