The Francis Marion University men's and women's basketball teams begin their Peach Belt Conference schedules on Saturday (Dec. 1) at home against the University of North Georgia in the Smith University Center. The women will tip-off at 1:30 p.m., with the men to follow at 3:30 p.m.
Admission is $8 for adults, $5 for students, and FMU students are admitted free. The contest will also be streamed live online courtesy of the Patriot Sports Network.
On the women's side, the Patriots (2-1) are coming off of a loss to the University of Mount Olive on Tuesday, during which senior Shaunice Fulmore poured in a career-high 34 points. The reigning PBC Player of the Week, Fulmore is averaging 26.7 points per game, which leads the conference and ranks third nationally in NCAA Division II.
Graduate student forward Briana Burgins recorded a double-double in Tuesday's contest, posting season highs in points (25) and rebounds (13). The High Point, N.C., native ranks fourth in the Peach Belt in scoring (16.7 ppg) and third in rebounding (9.3 rpg).
The Nighthawks (5-1) come in ranked 16th nationally, and knocked off Clark Atlanta University 87-55 on Wednesday. Three players are averaging double-figures points for UNG, led by senior Amber Skidgel (16.0 ppg) and sophomore Julianne Sutton (15.7 ppg), who rank fifth and sixth, respectively, in the PBC in scoring. North Georgia also boasts the second-best defense in the conference, yielding 58.8 points per game.
Saturday will be the 23rd all-time meeting between Francis Marion and North Georgia in women's basketball, with the Nighthawks owning a 13-9 lead in the series. As the defending PBC regular-season and tournament champion, UNG was the top pick in the Peach Belt Coaches' Pre-season Poll, while the Patriots were picked to finish fourth.
The men's tilt will feature FMU's top-ranked offense (94.3 ppg), against a UNG defense which is allowing 67.4 points per game, the second-best mark in the conference. Francis Marion is 3-1, and won 80-72 at Shaw University in its last outing on Nov. 20 to run its winning streak to
three straight. Senior forward Brandon Parker leads the Patriots with 20.5 points per contest, which ranks second in the Peach Belt.
Senior guard Ryan Davis and freshman forward Kailex Stephens are each averaging 15.5 points per game for FMU. Stephens leads the squad in rebounding with 7.8 per contest, which is seventh-best in the PBC and tops amongst the league's freshmen.
Since dropping its opener, North Georgia has won four straight, including a 104-80 victory over the University of West Georgia its last time out. The Nighthawks are led by senior Shawn Hopkins, who tops the conference with a scoring average of 20.8 ppg. Junior Lanre Olatunji's 8.8 rebounds per game rank third in the Peach Belt.
Saturday's meeting will be the 22nd all-time between Francis Marion and North Georgia in men's basketball, with the Nighthawks holding an 11-10 edge in the series. The Patriots won all three meetings last season, including an 83-54 victory in the quarterfinals of the Peach Belt Conference Tournament.