FLORENCE, S.C. — The Francis Marion University men’s basketball team fell just short 82-80 in a back-and-forth battle in the Smith University Center against Peach Belt Conference rival UNC Pembroke, Wednesday evening (Jan. 27). Strong second-half performances by senior guard Holden Redparth and junior swingman Alex Cox gave the Patriots life, but the Braves closed the door after late FMU turnovers.
Francis Marion (3-4, 3-4) will play its next two games on the road at Columbus State University on Saturday at 3:30 p.m. and at the Augusta University on Feb. 3 at 7:30 p.m. The next home contest for the Patriots will be against Clayton State University on Feb. 6 at 5 p.m.
The Patriots had four players score in double-figure. Redparth, a Rockville, Md., native, led the FMU with his first career double-double, tallying 24 points, 10 rebounds, and two assists. He was 7-of-15 from the field, including 3-of-8 from behind the arc, while shooting a perfect 7-of-7 at the free-throw line.
His counterpart, junior Langston Gaither, was next among Patriot scorers with 22 points, seven rebounds, and three steals. He shot 50 percent (8-of-16) from the field, including 3-of-7 from long range, and was 3-of-4 from the charity stripe. He currently ranks No. 2 in the PBC, and No. 5 nationally in scoring (23.6 ppg).
Cox, the PBC leader in minutes played, logged 16 points, 11 coming in the second half. He was 6-of-9 from the field and 4-of-6 from the free-throw line. Freshman guard Ja’Von Anderson had a career-high 11 points, shooting 3-of-5 from behind the arc.
UNC Pembroke (3-3, 3-2) had five players score in double figures. Senior forward Spencer Levi led the Braves with an 18 point, 14 rebound double-double. He was followed by Cortez Marion-Holmes with 16 points, Malik Sanders 13 points, Trenton McIntyre 12, and Jordan Ratliffe 11.
FMU jumped out to an early lead and led by as many as seven, 25-18, after Redparth drained a three-ball with 6:24 left in the opening half. UNCP answered with a four-minute 11-0 run that eventually gave the Braves a 32-27 lead. The Patriots chipped into that lead, and thanks to a Gaither triple at the halftime horn, entered the locker room down only 34-33.
The Braves came out of the locker room and quickly jumped out to a seven-point lead. The margin swelled to 59-48 with 11:50 remaining. The Patriots chipped into the Braves’ lead, but UNCP seemed to always have an answer. However, a 17-8 run by FMU knotted the game up 67-67 with 6:35 to go.
Francis Marion found itself with a three-point, 73-70, lead with 4:56 remaining after an Anderson three-pointer. Five straight points regained the lead for UNCP, and costly turnovers and fouls in the final minutes let the Braves survive in the Battle of I-95. Francis Marion did have a chance to knot the score at 81 in the final minute, but a corner three-pointer rimmed out.
FMU knocked down 14 three-pointers on only 27 attempts.
Courtesy – Francis Marion Athletics