Patriots weather the storm behind Parker and Smith career-highs

Patriots weather the storm behind Parker and Smith career-highs

AMERICUS, GA – Senior forward Brandon Parker scored a career-high 36 points and Francis Marion University withstood a late rally to knock off Georgia Southwestern State University 90-85 in Peach Belt Conference men's basketball action on Monday (Dec. 17).

The win is the sixth straight for FMU (6-1, 2-0), which is ranked seventh in the latest D2SIDA Southeast Regional poll. It also snapped a three-game skid for Francis Marion in Americus.

The Patriots continue their two-game road trip on Wednesday (Dec. 19) as they visit Columbus State University at 1 p.m. FMU returns to the Smith University Center to face Young Harris College on Saturday, Jan. 5, at 3:30 p.m.

Parker's 36 points came on 8-of-9 from the field, including 6-of-7 on three-pointers. It was tied for the 10th-highest individual scoring performance in program history, and moves him passed former Patriots Bob Wilson, Jeff Dean, and Kevin Everhart and into 27th position on the FMU career scoring list with 881 points. The senior also grabbed a game-high eight rebounds, and was 14-of-19 at the free throw stripe, only three attempts shy of the FMU single-game record of 22.

Joining Parker in double-figures were junior guard Jaquez Smith, who poured in a career-high 20, and freshman forward Kailex Stephens who added 12. Stephens is the lone Patriot to have scored in double-digits in each of the team's seven games.

The Hurricanes (2-6, 0-2) had five players score in double-figures, led by senior Devin Watson's 17. Also scoring in double-digits for GSW were senior Andre Statem (13), senior R.J. Sessions (12), freshman Grant Howard (11), and senior Quenten Taylor (10).

After the Hurricanes took an early lead, senior guard Ryan Davis hit a jumper at the 12:54 mark to hand FMU its first advantage of the contest at 13-11. Five straight points by the Patriots extended the lead to 24-17, and later, Francis Marion stretched the margin to double-figures for the first time at 30-19, with a 6-0 spurt.

Georgia Southwestern responded with a 7-2 run to trim the FMU advantage back to six at 32-26 before Parker took over.

The senior sparked a 13-0 Patriot run with nine consecutive points, an assist on a layup by freshman forward Winston Hill, and then another bucket of his own to extend the lead to 45-26. That quieted a Sumter County Schools Education Day crowd of 2,035 in The Storm Dome.  The Hurricanes ended a drought of 4:38 without scoring in the final seconds of the half to make it 45-28 Patriots at the break.

The 'Canes opened the second half with a 14-4 run, cutting FMU's lead to 49-42. The Patriots answered with a 9-2 spurt to briefly extend the lead back to 14 at 58-44, but Georgia Southwestern countered with a 9-0 run to make it 58-53 around the halfway mark of the second stanza.

Francis Marion extended the advantage back into double-digits multiple times in the final 10 minutes, but each time, GSW quickly cut it back to single-digits. In the final 15 seconds, the Hurricanes hit three consecutive three-pointers to cut the lead to as few as three at 88-85, but the combination of Parker and Smith knocked down 9-of-12 free throw attempts over the final 1:21 to help the Patriots hang on.

FMU went 26-for-51 from the field (51.0 percent), including 9-for-19 on three-pointers. The Patriots hit 29 of their 39 free throw attempts. Georgia Southwestern shot 49.1 percent from the floor (30-for-61), and connected on 10-of-26 from beyond the arc. The Hurricanes hit 15-of-23 at the charity stripe.


12/17/18 11:00 am at Americus, GA (Storm Dome)
FRANCIS MARION (6-1 , 2-0)
Brandon Parker 8-9 14-19 36; Jaquez Smith 5-10 9-10 20; Kailex Stephens 5-13
2-3 12; Je'Quan Perry 2-4 3-4 8; Kendall Wall 2-3 0-0 5; Winston Hill 2-7
1-2 5; Ryan Davis 2-5 0-1 4; Alex Cox 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 26-51 29-39 90.
GA. SOUTHWESTERN (2-6 , 0-2)
Devin Waston 7-11 1-3 17; Andre Statam 5-9 2-2 13; R.J. Sessions 5-10 1-3
12; Grant Howard 2-4 5-5 11; Quenten Taylor 3-12 2-3 10; Devon Higgs 4-6 0-1
9; Jamari Dean 2-5 3-4 7; Jalen Morgan 1-1 1-2 4; Kwei Lartey 1-3 0-0 2;
Kobie Williams 0-0 0-0 0; Eric Hall Jr. 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 30-61 15-23 85.
Halftime: Francis Marion 45 Ga. Southwestern 28
3-point goals--Francis Marion 9-19 (Brandon Parker 6-7; Je'Quan Perry 1-2;
Jaquez Smith 1-4; Kendall Wall 1-1; Winston Hill 0-1; Kailex Stephens 0-4),
Ga. Southwestern 10-26 (Devin Waston 2-4; Quenten Taylor 2-6; Grant Howard
2-4; Jalen Morgan 1-1; Devon Higgs 1-3; R.J. Sessions 1-5; Andre Statam 1-2;
Kwei Lartey 0-1). Fouled out--Francis Marion-None, Ga. Southwestern-Quenten
Taylor. Rebounds--Francis Marion 28 (Brandon Parker 8), Ga. Southwestern 33
(Quenten Taylor 7). Assists--Francis Marion 12 (Ryan Davis 4), Ga.
Southwestern 13 (Kwei Lartey 3; Quenten Taylor 3; R.J. Sessions 3). Total
fouls--Francis Marion 20, Ga. Southwestern 25. Technical fouls--None. A-2035