HARROGATE, TN – Francis Marion University junior Brandon Parker hit a three-pointer from in front of the Patriot bench to knot the score with 5.1 seconds left, but UNC Pembroke freshman guard David Strother had the response as his 30-footer at the final horn swished through the twine sending Francis Marion to a heart-breaking 75-72 loss, Saturday afternoon (March 10) in the opening quarterfinal game of the 2018 NCAA Division II Southeast Regional Men's Basketball Tournament.
Francis Marion ends its magical season with a 20-10 mark, a figure that includes three losses to the nationally ranked Braves in the last five contests. The third-seeded and 24th-ranked Braves (27-5) advance to Sunday's semifinals against the winner of second-seeded Queens University of Charlotte and seventh-seeded Lees-McRae College.
Senior guard Detrek Browning led FMU with 27 points and in the process broke the Peach Belt Conference career scoring record with a final total of 2,356 points. Parker finished with 14 points, while senior center Judah Alexander tallied 11 points and five rebounds and junior guard Ryan Davis scored 11 points off the bench.
James Murray-Boyles led UNCP with 15 points off the bench, while Brandon Watts added 12 and four players chipped in 11 apiece, including Strother.
Francis Marion trailed 72-66 with 1:37 remaining after Strother gathered his own miss that did not hit the iron and drained a baseline jumper to beat an expiring shot clock. Davis drove to the hoop and converted a three-point play with 1:19 left to bring the Patriots to within 72-69. Browning missed a potential game-tying three-pointer with 34 ticks remaining, but Watts missed the front end of a 1-and-1 situation giving FMU a final chance.
Parker then drilled his three-pointer from the left elbow with 5.1 seconds left on the clock to deadlock the contest at 72-72. Eschewing a timeout, Strother raced the ball up the floor and left fly from the sideline logo in front of the UNCP bench just as the clock reached all zeros and the attempt hit nothing but net.
UNCP scored the game's opening eight points forcing an early FMU timeout. The Patriots responded with the next five points. However, UNCP would expand the margin to 17-8, but FMU answered with a 13-4 run to knot the score at 21-21 on a three-pointer by junior Victor Hunt.
A three-pointer from the left corner at the 12:44 mark of the first half gave Browning the points he needed to pass Augusta University's Keshun Sherrill for the PBC career scoring record. The bucket accounted for three of the Columbia native's 16 first-half points.
Trailing 30-29, Francis Marion closed the half with an 11-6 spurt to claim a 40-36 advantage as the team's left the floor at intermission.
The Patriots held the lead for the first 10 minutes of the second stanza, leading by as many as seven points. A 7-0 run by the Braves that included five points from Murray-Boyles put UNCP back on top 62-59 at the midway point of the half. Five points from Alexander in consecutive possessions brought FMU to within 68-66 with 2:47 remaining.
Francis Marion connected on 45.6 percent of its field goal attempts, including 6-of-16 from three-point territory, and the Patriots were 14-of-17 at the foul line. UNCP finished at 46.0 percent, including 7-of-22 from behind the arc, and the Braves shot 10-of-13 at the charity stripe.
Francis Marion outrebounded the taller Braves 35-33 and led in points in the paint 38-32. As they did in the PBC semifinals last Saturday (24-4), the Braves held a commanding 26-11 edge in points off turnovers.
POST-GAME Press Conference with FMU head coach gary Edwards
Final Game sequence
3-10-18 12:00 PM at Harrogate, TN
#24 UNC PEMBROKE 75, FRANCIS MARION 72
FRANCIS MARION (20-10)
Detrek Browning 8-16 7-9 27; Brandon Parker 4-10 5-6 14; Judah Alexander 5-9
1-1 11; Ryan Davis 5-10 1-1 11; Victor Hunt 3-5 0-0 7; Kendall Wall 1-1 0-0
2; Kingsley Nwagboso 0-1 0-0 0; Warren Specht 0-4 0-0 0; Jaquez Smith 0-1
0-0 0. Totals 26-57 14-17 72.
UNC PEMBROKE (27-5)
James Murray-Boyles 6-11 1-2 15; Brandon Watts 5-13 0-1 12; Tyrell Kirk 4-7
2-2 11; David Strother 5-10 0-0 11; Nigel Grant 3-11 5-6 11; Akia Pruitt 5-5
0-0 11; Jamal Bryant 0-1 2-2 2; Micah Kinsey 1-5 0-0 2. Totals 29-63 10-13 75.
Halftime: Francis Marion 40 UNCP 36
3-point goals--Francis Marion 6-16 (Detrek Browning 4-7; Victor Hunt 1-2;
Brandon Parker 1-4; Warren Specht 0-2; Ryan Davis 0-1), UNC Pembroke 7-22
(James Murray-Boyles 2-5; Brandon Watts 2-6; David Strother 1-2; Akia Pruitt
1-1; Tyrell Kirk 1-3; Micah Kinsey 0-1; Jamal Bryant 0-1; Nigel Grant 0-3).
Fouled out--Francis Marion-None, UNC Pembroke-None. Rebounds--Francis Marion
35 (Brandon Parker 5; Judah Alexander 5; Ryan Davis 5), UNC Pembroke 33
(Nigel Grant 6). Assists--Francis Marion 14 (Warren Specht 3; Brandon Parker
3), UNC Pembroke 20 (Tyrell Kirk 7). Total fouls--Francis Marion 14, UNC
Pembroke 15. Technical fouls--None. A-540