Patriots fall short in shoot-out to YHC 120-119
Despite career-high totals of 25 points and 14 rebounds by freshman forward Kailex Stephens, Francis Marion University dropped a wild 120-119 decision to Young Harris College, Saturday afternoon (Jan. 5) in Peach Belt Conference men’s basketball action.
Francis Marion saw its seven-game winning streak end as the Patriots drop to 7-2 overall and 3-1 in the Peach Belt. FMU will play host to sixth-ranked USC Aiken on Wednesday at 7:30 p.m. in the Smith University Center.
Senior forward Je’Quan Perry added career-high equaling totals of 20 points and eight rebounds, while senior Ryan Davis registered 19 points and 11 rebounds. Senior swingman Brandon Parker added 15 points, followed by junior guard Jaquez Smith with 13 points and seven assists and freshman center Winston Hill with 10.
Juniors Justin Jones and Ryle Owens led Young Harris (5-7, 3-3) with 25 points apiece, while junior Alphonso Willis poured in 24 off the Mountain Lion bench. Junior guard Brian Harper scored seven points, but handed out a Peach Belt single-game record-equaling 19 assists.
A stick-back hoop by Stephens in the opening minute gave Francis Marion its only lead of the first half at 2-0. The Mountain Lions broke a 3-3 deadlock with a 13-2 run to go up 16-5. FMU answered with six straight points to pull within 16-11 at the 14:18 mark.
However, Young Harris raced to a 19-point margin (41-22) following a fast-break basket by Willis with 7:27 left before halftime. A 20-4 spurt by Francis Marion trimmed the deficit to 45-42 with 1:57 remaining, and later a three-pointer by Stephens brought the Patriots to within 50-49. The Mountain Lions led 54-49 at halftime.
Young Harris led by as many as 11 on several occasions in the second stanza. A three-pointer by Smith finally got the Patriots even at 91-91 with 7:18 left in the contest, but Young Harris responded with six straight points.
Trailing 103-98, FMU again rallied, this time at the charity stripe, as eight free throws gave the Patriots a 106-103 lead with 3:13 on the clock. A bucket by Willis put the Mountain Lions back on top, at 107-106, but Perry drained a three-pointer with 2:19 remaining to again knot the score at 110-110.
Jones put the Mountain Lions up for good with a three-pointer, and then registered a steal to lead to a hoop by Owens as Young Harris took a 115-110 lead. A pair of three throws by Owens later stretched the margin to 117-110 with 29 ticks left.
FMU’s 70 points in the second stanza is the sixth highest total in program history. The combined 239 points is the third highest total in team history.
Francis Marion connected on 42.4 percent of its field goal attempts and made 14 three-pointers, while hitting 33 of 44 at the free throw stripe. Young Harris shot 56.0 percent from the floor, including 21-of-35 from behind the three-point arc, and made 15-of-21 free throws.