DAHLONEGA, GA – Francis Marion University erased all but two points of a 20-point second-half deficit, but the Patriots' rally eventually fell just shot in a 72-68 loss to the University of North Georgia, Monday afternoon (Jan. 19) in Peach Belt Conference men's basketball action.
Francis Marion falls to 9-9 overall and 1-8 in the Peach Belt with the eight losses coming by a combined 38 points. FMU will travel to Aiken, S.C., on Saturday night to battle USC Aiken in a 7:30 p.m. tip-off. The Patriots' next home game will be Jan. 28 against Lander University.
Freshman point guard Detrek Browning scored 25 points – two shy of his career high – to lead FMU. Browning, who was earlier in the day named the PBC's Player of the Week for his efforts last week, connected on 8-of-15 shots. It was his sixth 20-point scoring effort in PBC play.
Ebo Smith led North Georgia (12-4, 6-3) with 21 points, while Corey Green registered a double-double of 10 points and 13 rebounds.
After shooting only 22.6 percent over the opening 20 minutes, Francis Marion warmed up in the second stanza. The Patriots made 14-of-28 field goal attempts and nearly caught the Nighthawks, who led 48-28 with 16:23 left.
A lay-in by Browning got FMU to within 59-57 with 5:46 on the clock and capped a 29-11 rally by the Patriots.
UNG pushed its lead back to 69-61 before having to again turn away an FMU push. Browning converted a three-point play and Allen-Jordan scored on a layup to bring Francis Marion to within 69-66 with 1:03 remaining.
On the ensuing possession, Zivkovic blocked a UNG shot and the Patriots gained possession. Zivkovic then missed a potential game-tying three-pointer with 27 ticks left and Smith sealed the win with free throws over the final 12 seconds.
FMU finished the game shooting 35.6 percent, including 6-of-22 from three-point range. The Patriots were 20-of-29 at the foul line. North Georgia shot 51.1 percent, was 11-of-23 on three-pointers, and hit 15-of-25 free throws.
The Patriots forced 26 Nighthawk turnovers and led 27-5 in points off turnovers. However, UNG won the rebounding battle 42-26 and held a 17-2 advantage in second-chance points.
The early portion of the first half was tightly contested with five deadlocks. UNG broke a 12-12 tie with an 11-0 run. The margin swelled to 18 points, 36-18, before FMU trimmed the Nighthawk advantage to 15 points at halftime, 38-23.