FLORENCE, SC – Francis Marion University survived a pair of missed three-pointers in the final five seconds by Georgia Southwestern State University and hung on for a 72-69 win on Saturday (Jan. 19) in Peach Belt Conference men's basketball action.
The victory improves Francis Marion's record to 11-2 overall, equaling the second-best start in program history, matching the 2009-10 and 1985-86 teams. The best overall start for FMU was 11-1, accomplished by the 2003-04 and 1979-80 squads. The Patriots are now 7-1 in Peach Belt play, tying the second-best conference start in program history. The 2003-04 and 2009-10 teams won seven of eight to start PBC play, while the best start belongs to the 1997-98 squad, which opened conference play 10-1.
The Patriots continue their three-game home stand on Monday (Jan. 21) as Columbus State University invades the Smith University Center at 3:30 p.m. for an MLK Day matinee.
Wins by FMU and UNC Pembroke on Saturday keeps the two rivals tied for second in the Peach Belt Conference standings, with the first meeting between the two set for Wednesday, Jan. 30, in Pembroke, N.C.
Junior guard Jaquez Smith led three Patriots in double-figures with 17 points. Seniors Brandon Parker and Ryan Davis added 16 apiece. With his 16, Parker passed Gene Reaves for 22nd and moved into a tie with Simel Boyd for 21st on the FMU career scoring list with 998 career points.
Senior forward Je'Quan Perry and freshman forward Winston Hill chipped in seven points each and were Francis Marion's two best rebounders for the afternoon, grabbing 11 and nine, respectively. Perry's 11 tied his career-high, while Hill's nine set a new career mark.
The Hurricanes (2-12, 0-8) were led by senior guard R.J. Sessions, who poured in a game-high 20. The lone other GSW player in double-figures was senior guard Quenten Taylor with 13.
With six ticks left, GSW senior guard Devin Watson was fouled, hit the first free throw, then missed the second which gave the Hurricanes a chance for the tie. The visitors grabbed the miss and got off a pair of three-pointers in the final five seconds, both of which hit the iron.
Georgia Southwestern jumped out to an early 8-3 advantage thanks to a pair of three-pointers, but Smith answered quickly with five straight to get FMU even. After a layup by senior Andre Statam put the Hurricanes on top 12-11, Francis Marion scored the next seven, including five more from Smith, to take an 18-12 lead.
Taylor halted the run with a bucket, but the Patriots scored the next six to stretch the lead into double-digits for the first time at 24-14. Trailing 28-19, the Hurricanes used a 7-0 spurt to draw back within two. FMU then went on a 14-2 run to close out the half behind nine points from Davis, who capped the half with a buzzer-beating three-pointer to put Francis Marion ahead 44-30 going into halftime. The Patriots were 16-of-28 from the floor in the opening half, including connecting on 7-of-14 from downtown.
The Patriots' lead reached as high as 15, when freshman Kailex Stephens knocked down a three-pointer at the 16:33 mark. Georgia Southwestern immediately countered with 11 straight to cut the deficit to four at 49-45. The Hurricanes got as close as one at 59-58, and had a chance to tie the contest at the free throw line with 5:46 remaining, but missed a pair.
The Patriots went 26-for-62 (41.9 percent) from the field, and made 11-of-30 three-point attempts. Georgia Southwestern shot 42.2 percent (27-for-64) from the floor, and made 7-of-20 from beyond the arc.
Post-game comments from FMU head coach Gary Edwards
01/19/19 3:30 pm at Florence, SC (Smith University Center)
FRANCIS MARION 72, GA. SOUTHWESTERN 69
GA. SOUTHWESTERN (2-12 , 0-8)
Sessions, R.J. 8-16 2-2 20; Taylor, Quenten 6-11 0-3 13; Statam, Andre 3-5
2-4 8; Watson, Devin 2-9 3-4 8; Lartey, Kwei 3-9 0-0 8; Howard, Grant 3-8
0-0 7; Dean, Jamari 2-3 1-4 5; Rutherford, Jaylin 0-1 0-0 0; Morgan, Jalen
0-1 0-2 0; Higgs, Devon 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 27-64 8-19 69.
FRANCIS MARION (11-2 , 7-1)
Jaquez Smith 7-15 0-1 17; Brandon Parker 5-12 3-4 16; Ryan Davis 6-11 2-6
16; Je'Quan Perry 3-4 0-0 7; Winston Hill 2-6 3-4 7; Kailex Stephens 2-8 1-2
6; Kendall Wall 1-4 0-0 3; Douglas Dwight 0-1 0-0 0; Alex Cox 0-1 0-0 0.
Totals 26-62 9-17 72.
Halftime: Francis Marion 44 Ga. Southwestern 30
3-point goals--Ga. Southwestern 7-20 (Sessions, R.J. 2-7; Lartey, Kwei 2-4;
Watson, Devin 1-4; Howard, Grant 1-3; Taylor, Quenten 1-2), Francis Marion
11-30 (Jaquez Smith 3-10; Brandon Parker 3-6; Ryan Davis 2-3; Je'Quan Perry
1-2; Kailex Stephens 1-4; Kendall Wall 1-3; Douglas Dwight 0-1; Alex Cox
0-1). Fouled out--Ga. Southwestern-Taylor, Quenten, Francis Marion-None.
Rebounds--Ga. Southwestern 41 (Dean, Jamari 8; Statam, Andre 8), Francis
Marion 40 (Je'Quan Perry 11). Assists--Ga. Southwestern 13 (Lartey, Kwei 6),
Francis Marion 15 (Jaquez Smith 4). Total fouls--Ga. Southwestern 16,
Francis Marion 17. Technical fouls--None. A-1134