UNCP’s men’s basketball was defeated 88-90 by USC Aiken in an impeccable matchup on Jan. 23. The loss ended a 17-game home win streak for the Braves. The Braves had not been defeated on Lumbee Guaranty Bank Court since Dec. 17, 2017.
The start of the game set the pace for the rest of the night. Baskets were swapped between the two teams constantly within the first 20 minutes of playtime, in the first half, causing the lead to interchange a total of 12 times. The largest lead of the half was 33-27 taken by the Pacers with less than six minutes left on the clock.
The Braves refused to trail behind going into half-time, so with the help of James Murray-Boyles, who had 19 points, lessened the score gap to 37-36. Though the Braves were playing the Pacers with ultimate precision, the Pacers still managed to finish the half in the lead with 43-41.
The second half started off with USC Aiken making a layup then continued with many ball swaps, but the streak was killed when sophomore Tyrell Kirk who had 17 points, knocked down a three-point shot.
Kirk’s shot was followed by a jumper made by Akia Pruitt who totaled 14 points for the night, which put the Braves in the lead. The rest of the half consisted of many lead swaps and tough play by both teams.
The Pacer’s ran a fast pace game, but the Braves managed to keep up by staying strong with rebounds totaling 54. The Pacer’s managed to use the Brave’s 20 turnovers along with two technical fouls given to the team and their teammate Spencer Levi, who totaled 11 points, to their advantage.
With 38.0 seconds left on the clock, Levi made one of his free throws to tie the game 88-88. USC Aiken managed to hit a jumper with 11.0 seconds to go taking the lead and blocked UNCP from making the buzzer beater and won the game 90-88.
“When you give a team like that easy baskets and transition, you know they’re gonna put 90 points up on you,” said Head Coach Ben Miller
When asked about the loss and what could have been done Boyles and Kirk both made comments about making one more stop against USC Aiken.
“He [coach] doesn’t want us to get too caught up on this game, on this loss because there's still a lot of season left…he also told us that we could have got that one more stop…that would have changed the outcome of the game,” said Boyles.