USC Aiken's Late Free Throws Spoil Pirate Comeback, 86-85

USC Aiken's Late Free Throws Spoil Pirate Comeback, 86-85

AIKEN, S.C. - Henry Bolton III's two free throws with 0.5 seconds remaining gave the host USC Aiken men's basketball team an 86-85 Peach Belt Conference men's basketball victory over visiting Armstrong State University, spoiling a comeback in which the Pirates erased an 11-point deficit in the final three minutes. 

The Pirates fall to 10-13 overall and 5-9 in the PBC with the loss, while USC Aiken improves to 16-6 overall and 10-5 in the league. Armstrong State returns to action on Wednesday, hosting Lander in a 7:30 p.m. Peach Belt Conference contest at Alumni Arena.

Armstrong State trailed USC Aiken by 11 points, 79-68, after Austin Grimes' three-point play with 3:08 left in regulation. A three-pointer by freshman Corey Tillery with 2:21 left sparked a 13-5 run that brought the Pirates to within three points, 84-81, with 45 seconds left. 

On the ensuing possession, Jamison Jeffers stole the ball just past halfcourt, and the Pirates' Denzel Council had a breakaway layup blocked out of bounds by USC Aiken's Christian Nobles with 35 seconds left. On the inbounds, Tillery put up a three-point shot from near the top of the arc. He was fouled by the Pacers' Paris Ballinger and the shot went in. Tillery's four-point play with 29 seconds left put the Pirates up by one, 85-84.

USC Aiken's Mark Matthews missed a three-point shot with 10 seconds left and the Pirates' Francisco Williams came down with the rebound, but was called for traveling, giving the Pacers one last shot at the win. Bolton drove to the left elbow and put up a shot as the buzzer sounded, but a foul was called on Williams and 0.5 seconds were put back on the clock. Bolton sunk both free throws and a desperation heave from halfcourt by the Pirates went over the backboard, giving USC Aiken the win. 

Four Pirates reached double figures on the night, led by Tillery's 23 points on 6-of-10 three-point shooting and 5-of-6 from the free throw line. Council finished with a double-double of 18 points and 11 rebounds, while Jeffers added 12 points and Williams added 10 points.

Bolton had 23 points on the night for the Pacers, while Nobles had 20 points and Matthews finished with 12 points.