Patriot Hoops hosts twinbill against USCA on Wednesday

Patriot Hoops hosts twinbill against USCA on Wednesday

The Francis Marion University men's and women's basketball teams continue Peach Belt Conference play on Wednesday night (Jan. 9) with a doubleheader against USC Aiken in the Smith University Center. The women's contest will tip-off at 5:30 p.m., with the men's tilt against the nationally-ranked Pacers to follow at 7:30 p.m.

Admission is $8 for adults, $5 for students, and FMU students are admitted free. Fans in attendance are encouraged to wear red to the games. Both contests will also be streamed live online courtesy of the Patriot Sports Network.

The Patriot women (5-3, 2-2) opened 2019 with a 78-56 victory over Young Harris College on Saturday behind the first career double-double (20 points, 10 rebounds) for sophomore forward Kiana Adderton. Adderton has scored in double-figures in each of her four games for FMU, and is averaging 15.5 points per contest.

Francis Marion senior Shaunice Fulmore paces the PBC and ranks 10th nationally in NCAA Division II in scoring with 23.0 points per contest. The Lake City native is also seventh in the conference in both field goal percentage (48.7 percent) and three-point percentage (38.7 percent). Fulmore enters Wednesday with 1,542 career points, and needs five to pass Christy Wright (1997-2001) for eighth place on the FMU career scoring list and 13th place on the PBC career list.

Graduate student forward Briana Burgins also ranks in the league's top-10 in scoring at 13.3 ppg, and sixth in the Peach Belt with a team-leading 8.0 rebounds per game. She is currently tied with Lisa Waldrop for 12th on the FMU career rebounding list with 775.

The Pacers (8-4, 4-2) beat Columbus State University 72-62 on Saturday and have won three of their last four. Sophomore center Kwajelin Farrar leads USC Aiken with 16.8 points per game, fourth-most in the PBC, and a league-leading 10.6 rebounds per contest. She has recorded six double-doubles this season.                   

Wednesday will be the 82nd all-time meeting between Francis Marion and USC Aiken in women's basketball, with the Patriots owning a 51-30 advantage. FMU has won three in a row in the series and five of the six meetings under head coach Jeri Porter. 

The men's tilt will feature two of the top-4 offenses in the Peach Belt. FMU (7-2, 3-1) boasts the best offense in the conference, averaging 93.8 points per game, while USC Aiken (12-0, 6-0) is averaging 86.9 ppg, which is fourth in the PBC.

The Patriots had their seven-game winning streak snapped on Saturday with a 120-119 loss to Young Harris. The setback dropped Francis Marion from fourth to seventh in the latest D2SIDA Southeast Region poll. FMU is looking for its first win over a top-10 opponent since a 69-60 win at sixth-ranked USC Spartanburg on Jan. 19, 1994.

All five FMU starters are averaging double-digits, led by senior forward Brandon Parker, whose 18.1 points per game average ranks fourth in the PBC. Freshman forward Kailex Stephens is coming off of back-to-back double-doubles, including a career-high 25 points and career-high tying 14 rebounds on Saturday. Stephens sits in seventh in the conference in scoring (16.6 ppg) and fifth in rebounding (7.9), both of which are tops amongst the league's freshmen.

Also averaging double-digits for Francis Marion are senior guard Ryan Davis (14.8 ppg), senior forward Je'Quan Perry (12.9 ppg), and junior guard Jaquez Smith (11.7 ppg). Davis is coming off of his second double-double of the season (19 points, 11 rebounds) and is seventh in the Peach Belt with 7.2 rebounds per game. Davis (4.1) and Smith (4.0) rank eighth and ninth, respectively, in assists per game.

USC Aiken is one of six undefeated teams remaining in NCAA Division II men's basketball and is ranked fifth in the latest D2SIDA national poll and sixth in the most recent NABC coaches' Top-25 poll. The Pacers' offense boasts four of the Peach Belt's top-14 scorers, led by senior guard Doniel Dean, whose 16.8 points per game are sixth-best in the conference. Joining Dean in double-figures are junior forward Faison Brock (8th, 16.4 ppg), junior guard Xzavier Barmore (13th, 15.4 ppg), and senior guard Ty'lik Evans (14th, 14.8 ppg).

Wednesday's contest will be the 88th all-time between Francis Marion and USC Aiken in men's basketball, with the Patriots holding a 46-41 edge.