SAVANNAH, GA – Corey Tillery sparked a 10-0 Armstrong State University surge that erased a five-point Francis Marion University lead and put the Pirates ahead to stay en route to an 88-83 win over the Patriots, Saturday evening (Feb. 18) in Peach Belt Conference men's basketball action.
With the loss, Francis Marion (11-16, 6-12) drops into a fifth-place tie with the Pirates (11-16, 6-12), one-and-a-half games behind Lander University for the all-important fourth-place spot and the final berth in the PBC Tournament.
FMU will close out its regular season on Wednesday at UNC Pembroke. Tip-off is set for 7:30 p.m.
Sophomore guard Brandon Parker again led FMU in scoring, this time with 20 points as he posted his third consecutive 20-point game and sixth in the last 12 outings. Junior guard Detrek Browning tallied 18 points and nine assists. He moved to within one point of Allen Floyd's fourth-place total of 1,599 points on the Patriot career scoring list.
Kalen Clifton led the Pirates with 26 points, while Denzel Council registered 21 points and 11 rebounds.
After Armstrong State held an early 11-8 lead, FMU surged ahead with an 18-5 spurt over eight minutes. The advantage reached 12 on three occasions, the final time at 43-31 after a Nigel Holley jumper with 1:41 left before halftime. However, the Pirates scored the first half's final seven points to draw within 43-38 at intermission.
The Patriot lead expanded back to nine (47-38) early in the second stanza, but Armstrong State rallied to knot the contest at 56-56 with 13:28 on the clock. Again, FMU pushed ahead, leading 67-59 after a dunk by Jackson near the 10-minute mark.
The FMU lead was five at 77-72 with 4:01 remaining when Armstrong State used its 10-0 run to take an 82-77 advantage with two minutes left. Francis Marion got within 84-81 when freshman guard Jaquez Smith made a free throw with 32 ticks left, but the Pirates made 4-of-5 free throws to ice the game away.
FMU shot 52.9 percent from the floor, but was only 5-of-22 from three-point territory and 6-of-10 at the foul line. Armstrong State connected on 50 percent of its shots, including 10-of-27 from beyond the arc, and drained 18-of-22 free throws.