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LOCAL COLLEGE BASKETBALL

FMU women win ninth straight game

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2023DLY0224FMU-UNCP230121.jpg

Francis Marion’s Jasmine Stanley (22) shoots the ball over UNC Pembroke’s Malea Garrison (15) during Saturday’s game.

FLORENCE, S.C. – Francis Marion women’s coach Jeri Porter was proud of Saturday’s 66-61 win over UNC Pembroke for more reasons than the score.

She was proud of the adjustments her Patriots made to solve the Braves’ screens that created open, first-half 3-pointers.

She was proud of her players’ willingness to share that extra pass when the Braves were so strong defending the paint.

A season is not just one game. It has been a journey for this program that won the 2022 Conference Carolinas tournament championship.

For all the good things the Patriots had done during their eight-game winning streak before Saturday, they knew they would have to do even more against a Braves program that had been on a nine-game streak of its own.

All that was exemplified in one play that enabled the Patriots’ winning streak to become nine.

With fewer than three minutes left and the score tied at 55, FMU star Lauryn Taylor had the ball on one end. But on the other end, she saw Jada Richards open.

Make that extra pass? Why not?

On Saturday, it worked when Richards took Taylor’s pass and sank a 3-pointer from the right perimeter to give FMU the lead for good.

“Run good offense and share the ball,” said Porter, whose Patriots (11-6 overall, 9-2 conference) are now in a three-way tie for second in the CC with the Braves and Emmanuel. Belmont Abbey won Saturday and remains atop the conference at 11-0. “Their defense is basically predicated on packing the paint in and not allowing paint touches, and that’s what our offense is predicated on.

“So if our girls would trust each other enough to share the ball and get each other shots in positions where they can score, it would make a world of difference for us,” she added.

Another world of difference was at the free-throw line, where the Patriots made 21 of 23. FMU junior Aniyah Oliver even made all 12 of her attempts, tying a program record for most without a miss. The record of 12 is also held by Jennifer Brabson (Feb. 22, 2000 against Converse) and Crystal Sweat (Feb. 13, 1995 against USC Spartanburg).

“Free throws are free money,” said Oliver, who finished with a team-high 17 points. Richards had 16, followed by Kiana Lee with 11. “When you get a chance, it’s just you at the line and it gives you a chance to get yourself going.”

During the first half, however, UNCP got going by outscoring the Patriots in the paint (16-8) and from the bench (15-6).

The Braves, who won 69-66 in their first meeting, went on a 10-0 run in the second quarter to go up 34-22 with 5:15 left until halftime on a Hanna Russell 3-pointer. After UNCP made 5 of 11 3-pointers in the first half, FMU’s defense made sure that didn’t happen in the second.

“We knew their screens would come on the offensive end, but we had a hard time communicating,” said Oliver, whose team held UNCP to two 3-pointers the rest of the way. “We talked about communicating on screens and getting through them and being able to switch with everybody and being able to see the ball.”

Then, after Richards’ 3-pointer gave FMU its 58-55 lead, the Patriots scored the rest of their points with six Oliver free throws and the final two free throws by Lee.

What does FMU take from Saturday’s win? Oliver clearly stated it.

“We’re here to prove we’re here no matter where we’re at in the standings,” she said.

MEN

No. 10 UNCP 83

FMU 71

FLORENCE — The Braves went on a 16-5 run to close out Saturday’s game.

A 3-pointer by K.J. Walker gave UNCP the breathing room it needed at 74-67 with three minutes left. The Braves never looked back.

Francis Marion, which has now lost three consecutive games, is 10-7 overall and 7-4 in the conference.

Alex Cox led the Patriots with 15 points, followed by Tionne Collins with 13, Farid SaintCyr Jr. with 11 and Bryce Beamer with 10.

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Prep Sports Writer

A 12-time APSE national-award winner (8 writing, 1 video, 3 photography), Scott authored, "70 Years of Thrills and Chills, Drama and Dents at Darlington Raceway." Scott has won 9 1st-place SCPA awards since moving in 2010 from his home state of Georgia.

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