Jeff Burkhamer
Jeff Burkhamer
Rival USC Aiken came to town Wednesday night, and left Finis Horne Arena with a 74-62 win against Lander.
The Pacers (15-5 overall, 11-2 Peach Belt Conference) were led by Paul Larsen's 21 points and 10 rebounds, while Lander (6-13, 1-11) was led by David Pruitt's 25 points.
Lander missed its second leading scorer, Jareal Smith, who went home to welcome in his newborn son.
"We missed Jareal," Lander coach Jeff Burkhamer said, "But I told him to go home. I felt like that was more important than basketball."
Even without Jareal Smith, Lander kept it close with the Pacers as both teams went back and forth in the first 20 minutes as USC Aiken went into the half ahead 37-32.
"They were at home and they played that zone," USC Aiken coach Vince Alexander said, "You got to be patient against a zone, you got to wait for the right moment. I thought early we came out and had some turnovers. I thought once we settled in we ran a good offense."
With Jareal Smith out, the other Smith, Dermaine, stepped up for the Bearcats, scoring 21 points and adding five rebounds.