COLUMBIA ó The USC Aiken menís basketball team was unable to capitalize on a late second-half rally in a narrow 69-67 non-conference loss to Benedict on Saturday at the Benjamin E. Mays HRC Arena.

Benedict (3-1) commenced the contest by scoring 17 of the first 21 points in the opening seven minutes of the game.

The Pacers then went on a quick 5-0 spurt to pull within eight in the contest at 17-9 with less 11 minutes remaining in the first half.

A 12-5 run by USCA (2-2) over the next five minutes would put the Pacers within one at 22-21.

The two teams remained close the rest of the half with Benedict holding a 33-28 lead at the halftime break.

Benedict had pushed its lead to 58-48 with 6:32 remaining in the game.

USCA proceeded to go on a 13-0 run over the next almost two and a half minutes to take a 61-58 advantage with 4:09 to play in the game.

A Benedict 3-pointer shortly thereafter evened the game at 61-all.

The Tigers scored two more to go ahead by two at 63-61. Two Reímon Nelson free throws evened the game at 63-63 with 2:32 left in the game.

Neither team was able to hit another field goal until Benedict connected on a 3-pointer to go ahead 66-63 with 38 seconds left in the contest.

After a Pacer turnover, Benedict made one free throw to go ahead, 67-63. Nelson then connected on a 3-point play to pull the Pacers within one at 67-66 with 13 seconds left to play.

Benedict was fouled next, and the Tigers made their two free throws to set the score at 69-66 with seconds to play.

Paul Larsen led the Pacers in the narrow loss with 21 points and four rebounds. Nelson was the only other Pacer in double figures with 12 points. He also had four assists and three steals.

USCA will next welcome Mount Olive to the Convocation Center on Thursday. Tip-off is scheduled for 7 p.m.