AIKEN --- A quick look at the faces of USC Aiken's Mark Brown and Flagler's John Pietkiewicz told the whole story.
Brown hit a long-distance 3-pointer with Pietkiewicz in his face late in the second half of the Pacers' 92-84 win Wednesday night. It was one of a season-high 15 3-pointers, one shy of the school record. Brown nodded with a satisfied smile, while Pietkiewicz shook his head with a look of disbelief.
Brown's big 3, which put the Pacers up by eight with 3:37 left, was one of many clutch shots USC Aiken hit down the stretch to win a close Peach Belt Conference game.
There was another Brown 3-pointer off a Kevin Willis steal that gave the Pacers their first lead of the second half, and Byron Faison's ankle-breaking crossover that he finished off with a three-point play for a five-point cushion with 6:01 left. Seth Leonard's dribble, drive and dunk brought the largest roar of the night.
Each highlight interrupted a Flagler rally and awakened the announced crowd of 2,091 at the convocation center. Some fans would call it a statement game with region frontrunner Augusta State looming on next week's schedule. Pacers coach Vince Alexander just called it fun.
"The fun thing was to see our guys finally come back and show some confidence," he said. "I think it was fun watching them show that confidence again and believe that we're capable of winning."
The win helped the Pacers (10-6, 5-4) keep pace with the Peach Belt's top teams. It also snapped a three-game losing streak.
"We had a monkey on our back, and we got it off tonight," Brown said. "It was a must-win. That's how we looked at it. But we wanted to go out and have fun and just play and forget about the importance of it. That's what we did tonight."
USC Aiken shot a season-high 55.6 percent from behind the arc.
"With this team, shooting 25 threes is not uncharacteristic, because we have some really good shooters," Alexander said. "If they get shots, we want them to shoot it. I'm not going to tell them not to shoot it. That's when they lose confidence. If they've got big shots, they're shooting it. They can hit those shots."
Casey McMasters, who led the Pacers with 21 points, hit 5 of 7 3-pointers, while Brown went 4 for 6 and scored 17 points.
The Saints (7-7, 2-3), who shot 57.7 percent from the field, were led by Pietkiewicz's game-high 22 points. D.J. Ferguson finished with 16 points and 14 assists.