FLORENCE, SC – Senior guard Christian Nobles accounted for 11 points in a decisive 17-4 run late in the game allowing USC Aiken to escape with an 89-71 win over Francis Marion University, Saturday afternoon (Feb. 4) in Peach Belt Conference men's basketball action.
FMU (8-14, 4-10) will travel to Augusta University on Wednesday for a 7:30 p.m. tip-off. The Patriots' next home contest will be Saturday, Feb. 11, at 3:30 p.m. against Flagler College as FMU celebrates Homecoming.
FMU freshman point guard Jaquez Smith came off the bench to match starting point guard Detrek Browning for game-high scoring honors with 11 points apiece. Browning pushed his career point total to 1,499.
Three other Patriots chipped in 10 points each: senior Kenneth Jackson, junior Judah Alexander, and sophomore Brandon Parker. Alexander and Jackson each pulled down eight rebounds, while Smith handed out a team-high five assists.
Sophomore Mark Matthews led USCA (15-6, 9-5) with 19 points, while Nobles tallied 18.
Francis Marion led only briefly at the on-set of the game. The Pacers would lead by as many as 12 in the opening half, at 36-24, before the Patriots closed the stanza with a 9-2 to spurt to draw within 38-33.
A three-pointer by Jackson gave the Patriots a 47-46 advantage only 2:29 into the second half. The lead would be short-lived as Matthews answered at the other end with a three-pointer. Five minutes later, FMU took a two-point advantage after a lay-in by senior Samson Nnaji with 12:53 remaining.
After USCA again regained the lead, Browning's three-pointer midway through the half put the Patriots on top 60-59. However, again Matthews responded this time with a pair of three-pointers to put the Pacers ahead to stay.
The margin was only five at 70-65 with 5:53 on the clock when Nobles ignited the 17-4 run.
Francis Marion shot 39.4 percent from the floor, was 6-of-24 from three-point territory, and hit 13-of-20 free throw attempts. The Pacers made 49.2 percent of their field goal attempts, including 9-of-24 from behind the arc, and were 16-of-25 at the foul line.