Armstrong Sweeps USC Aiken in Basketball

AIKEN, S.C. - Armstrong State University senior Ethan Mackey scored 18 of his game-high 22 points in the second half to help the Pirates claim an 83-77 Peach Belt Conference men's basketball victory over host USC Aiken on Wednesday evening at the USC Aiken Convocation Center.

The win keeps the Pirates (7-11, 5-6 PBC) in third place in the Peach Belt Conference's East Division, while USC Aiken (3-15, 1-10 PBC) suffered its fifth straight loss. Armstrong State returns to action on Saturday, hosting Montevallo at 3:30 p.m. at Alumni Arena.

Armstrong State hit seven three-pointers in the first half against the Pacers, but USC Aiken scored the final six points of the half to take a 39-38 lead into the break. In the second half, Mackey scored 12 straight points in the first four minutes to help the Pirates build a 50-45 lead, one which Armstrong State would not relinquish.

USC Aiken drew within two points on an Andrew Glover three-point shot with 20 seconds left to make the score 79-77, but junior Jamison Jeffers hit a pair of free throws with 18 seconds remaining to push the lead back to four, then Jeffers canned two more free throws with five seconds left to clinch the victory.

Mackey hit 8-of-11 shots from the floor after halftime and knocked down a pair of free throws for his 18 second-half points. The senior finished with a game-high 22 points to lead the Pirates on the evening, while Jeffers finished with 16 points. Senior Herbert Graham added 11 points off the bench while senior Nick Scott hit 3-of-5 three-pointers en route to 10 points.

USC Aiken was led by Tavares Sledge's double-double of 23 points and 13 rebounds. Jevon Patton added 15 points, while Keith Belfield notched 14 points and Arbry Butler collected 11.

Armstrong State finished the night hitting exactly 50 percent from the floor (30-of-60) as well as three-point range (10-of-20). USC Aiken shot 40.3 percent from the floor (27-of-67) and 45.3 percent from three-point range (10-of-23). 

The Pirates earned their first season sweep of USC Aiken since the 2005-06 season. Armstrong State downed the Pacers on Jan. 2, 75-60.

(From Armstrong State Reports)