NO. 18 USCA 70, ROLLINS 59

SAINT LEO, Fla. – The USC Aiken men’s basketball team overcame a seven-point halftime deficit to record a 70-59 victory over Rollins in a neutral-site affair.

The Pacers are now 5-1 on the young season.

Kinley Branch came off the bench to net a team-high 14 points while Paul Larsen notched 13. Ronald Zimmerman chipped in 11, including nine from behind the three-point stripe.

Santoine Butler totaled eight points and seven rebounds while DeVontae Wright garnered seven points while distributing a game-high eight assists.

Foul trouble plagued the Pacers in the first half as the designated home team hit 13 first-half foul shots to take a 37-30 lead into the break.

However, USC Aiken’s hot shooting continued in the second period, to help secure the win. For the contest, the Pacers drained 54.5 percent of their shots from the floor (24-of-44), including eight-of-19 (42.1 percent) from downtown.

Head coach Vince Alexander’s team distributed a game-best 20 assists on 24 field goals. The squad also forced 15 turnovers while committing 13.

USCA controlled the paint, outscoring Rollins 32-20. The Pacers also maintained an 8-0 advantage on fast break points while the team garnered a 28-5 margin in bench points.

The Pacers trailed by as many as nine in the first half on multiple occasions, but Alexander’s team battled back quickly in the final period.

Trailing 43-36 with 15:52 remaining, Zimmerman canned a deep three with 15:16 to play. Butler then hit a tough jumper, making it a two-point edge with 14:21 left on the clock. Larsen made two free throws with 12:50 to go, knotting the contest at 43.

After a basket by Rollins, Rick Alderman took a pass from Larsen and converted an old-fashioned three-point play for a 46-45 lead.

With the score standing at 48-47 in favor of Alexander’s squad, his players embarked on a 10-2 run for a 58-49 margin.

USC Aiken never looked back over the final six-plus minutes. Derrick Scott’s dunk in the final minute gave Alexander’s team a 69-55 lead with 49 seconds remaining.

The Pacers return to action tomorrow at 4 p.m. against St. Leo.