Darrell Patterson scored 22 points, helping Mount Olive rally from 15 points down in the first half, but host USC Aiken closed out the contest with a 25-10 run and the Pacers won a non-conference men's basketball game over the Trojans Thursday night in Aiken, S.C. 96-82.
USC Aiken (3-2) showed its scoring prowess out of the gate. Boasting six players averaging in double-figures, the Pacers built a 27-12 cushion with 11:30 left in the first half. The Trojans (1-5) slowly chipped away at the deficit.
Kendall Hargrove made a pair of free throws, then Patterson followed with a three-pointer and two free throws of his own to close the gap to 32-26. USC Aiken responded, however, with a 12-4 run just before halftime to rebuild the lead to 14.
Mount Olive began chipping away at a 10-point halftime deficit early after intermission. Jordan McCain hit two free throws, then delivered a three-pointer during a 10-5 Trojan spurt to start the half. After falling behind by 10 again, the Trojans finally made it over the hump.
A three-point play by Patterson, two free throws by Dontrell Brite and a free throw by Ewon Wright brought Mount Olive within four, then Patterson hit another three-pointer to make it 67-66 with 8:55 remaining.
The lead changed hands four times in the next 1:40. Each time USC Aiken regained the lead, the Trojans answered. Two free throws from Hargrove and a lay-up by Mahamed Ibrahim put the Trojans ahead for the final time 72-70 with 7:15 left.
Over the next five minutes, Mount Olive turned the ball over four times and missed five of seven shots from the field as USC Aiken rebuilt its lead.
Patterson's 22 points and five three-pointers are season highs for the Trojan. He paced four players in double-figures. McCain added 17 points, Hargrove finished with 13, and Dory Hines delivered 11 to go along with eight rebounds and five assists.
Mount Olive returns to action Tuesday night when the Trojans travel to UNC Pembroke for a 7 p.m. start.