FLORENCE, SC – Sophomore center Winston Hill hit a step-back free-throw-line jumper with 1.7 seconds remaining to earn Francis Marion University an 87-85 victory over the University of North Georgia, Thursday (Dec. 19) evening in Peach Belt Conference men's action.
Francis Marion improves to 2-5 overall and 1-0 in conference. The Patriots will play host to Young Harris College in the latter half of a doubleheader on Saturday (Dec. 21) at 3:30 p.m. Fans are reminded that if they bring a medium or large teddy bear to the game they will gain free admission for up to four (4) people.
Hill finished the night with 22 points and a team-high eight rebounds, while senior point guard Jaquez Smith also had 22 points and handed out three assists. Smith scored 16 of his points before halftime, while Hill tallied 13 of his points after intermission.
FMU junior forward Kendall Wall registered 14 points, a career-high nine assists, and seven rebounds. Junior Kainan Pouncy chipped in 12 points. The Patriot bench scored 11 points for the squad, all in the final 20 minutes, and both head coach Gary Edwards and Hill said "we could not have won tonight without the contributions from our bench players."
North Georgia (5-5, 0-2) was led by guards Darnell Snyers with 22 points, KJ Jenkins with 17, and Josh Cottrell with 14. Senior guard Ephraim Tshimanga scored six points, but led the Nighthawks with 12 assists and six rebounds.
A fast-break three-pointer by Snyers gave UNG an 85-83 advantage entering the final minute of play. Hill took a pass from Wall and scored on a contested lay-up with 50 ticks left to knot the score. Jenkins missed a jumper in the lane on the ensuing possession and Hill grabbed the rebound. Pouncy could not connect on a three-point attempts with seven seconds remaining, but the ball went out of bounds belonging to the Patriots. Sophomore Alex Cox inbounded the ball to Hill who hit the game-winner from 15 feet. A half-court leave by the Nighthawks at the buzzer was no good.
The contest saw 13 lead changes, 12 of which were in the second half. The Patriots held the lead for over 31 minutes of the contest.
FMU led by as many as nine points in the opening half and held a 39-33 lead at halftime. Early in the second half, the margin expanded to 10 points, 49-39, following a three-pointer by Cox. UNG answered with a pair of three-pointers to quickly cut the deficit to four. Six points would be the largest lead for either side for the rest of the game.
The Patriots shot a season-high 52.4% from the floor, including 13-of-23 from behind the three-point arc, and were 8-of-9 at the free throw stripe. North Georgia connected on 51.7 percent of its field goal attempts, including 16-of-27 from long range, and made 9-of-12 charity tosses. The Nighthawks hit all nine of their three-point attempts over the final 20 minutes.
Post-game comments from FMU head coach Gary Edwards and sophomore center Winston Hill