AIKEN -- In its final home game of the season, the most excitement USC-Aiken could muster was the pregame announcements of seniors Juan Wiley and Derek Moore.
Once the game started, it was all Lander as the Senators voted down the Pacers 84-75 in Peach Belt action Tuesday night.
Despite the loss, Wiley and Moore both went out in style. Wiley led a late second-half charge on his way to 28 points and Moore held his own, collecting 12 rebounds to go with his 15 points.
The senior Lady Pacers also fared better than their respective team, as Aiken has now dropped all 16 conference games after a 77-63 loss to the Lady Senators.
Senior Kenya Brown paced Aiken with 20 points and Kerry Ansbro went out with 15 of her own, including five 3-pointers, giving her 204 total for her career.
The men came out hot early as Wiley and Moore both hit buckets, helping give Aiken a early 9-2 lead. But Lander quickly doused the flames, exploding on a 30-9 run of their own to take a 32-18 lead midway through the half.
"We didn't shoot the ball bad, but they had too much firepower for us," Aiken coach Mike Roberts said. "The difference between them and us in transition, we look inside and they have shooters hang around the 3-point line like sharks."
The Pacers looked helpless as Lander bombed away from outside. The Senators connected on 6-of-9 three-pointers in the half, and when they weren't scorching Aiken from beyond the arc, they were driving and scoring off Pacers turnovers.
Aiken trailed 50-35 at the half despite 11 points by Moore and 10 by Wiley.
"We felt good even though we were down by 15 at the half," Roberts said. "We talked about it and we knew we were going to get back in it and have a chance late in the game."
It didn't look like it early as Lander didn't miss a beat coming out of the lockerroom. The Senators, who placed five players in double figures, went on a 19-6 run to start the half, putting the Pacers in a state of panic.
Everyone but Wiley and Moore. The seniors sparked one last surge for the road, as they marched Aiken on a 16-2 run to reduce the deficit to 10. Wiley's 3-point play with 1:19 left cut the lead down to seven, but on the ensuing play he fouled out, putting an end to the game and his career on an Aiken floor.
"You probably rarely hear a coach say he likes to be around a couple of 23-year-olds," Roberts said. " But I can truly say they're probably better people than they are players."
The Pacers are the fourth seed in the upcoming Peach Belt tournament and will face fifth seeded Clayton State in the first round Saturday at 6:30 p.m.
Roberts said, "We got some fight in us left," he said. "I honestly feel good about our chances of making something happen up there."
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