Hawks give Francis Marion all they want
MURFREESBORO – Patriot missiles.
Despite facing a team that came into the Helms Center leading NCAA Division-II in five categories, including scoring offense (126 points per game) and three-point field goals per game (17), Chowan’s men’s basketball team gave Francis Marion all it wanted Wednesday night.
When the smoke cleared the Hawks had placed five players in double figures, shot over 56 percent for the game, and reduced FMU’s gaudy offensive numbers.
But it still didn’t add up to a win.
The Pats came out on top, 91-83; snapping Chowan’s three-game win streak., their longest in over three years.
Scoring in double-digits were former Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association CIAA) Newcomer-of-the Week Ashante Ross, who led all scorers with 21, and added a double-double to his evening with 11 rebounds.
Kyree Bethel had 19, at one point making five straight three-pointers; while Quinton McDuffie finished with 17; and freshman Kortez Smith had his best night as a collegiate with 14 points while Chris Williams rounded it out with 10.
Evrik Gary led four Francis Marion players in double-figures with 20.
Chowan at one point was matching the Pats with three-pointers before FMU pulled away late. The Hawks had nine three-pointers on the night compared to 15 for the Pats; two under their average.
“You’ve got to give them credit, they’ve got some good players,” said first-year coach Brett Vincent. “I’m proud of our guys. They fought hard and I think their depth wore us down.
“We worked hard,” he added. “We’ve just got to strive to get better.”
Chowan opened the game with a 4-0 lead as Ross hit a jumper then excited the sparse holiday crowd with a rim-rattling dunk
But FMU battled as well, never letting Chowan get a lead of more than four points and not eclipsing the four-point mark themselves; plus, there were five ties. A McDuffie layup after a feed from Ross gave Chowan a 34-25 advantage, their largest lead of the half.
Chowan began matching the Pats’ run-and-gun style. Bethel drained all four of his first half three-point attempts and that allowed the Hawks to maintain control for the remainder of the half, even going up by a dozen at the 3:30 minute mark.
However, eight points from the Pats’ Robert Carpenter, including back-to-back threes, got Francis Marion within six; and as the teams headed to the locker room at the break Chowan had a four-point, 49-45 lead.
The second half started with the Hawks scoring three back-to-back threes including Bethel’s fifth straight and two in a row from the 5’-5” Smith, who pumped his fist in the air on his second attempt.
Bethel would’ve gone 6-for-6 in three’s, but his sixth attempt still drew iron in the form of a putback: Ross’ second jam-burger dunk of the night.
Meanwhile, FMU’s first five field goals were all treys and that cut Chowan’s lead down to four, 64-60.
Chowan upped that lead to eight, 68-60 before the game turned. FMU went to a half-court passing game and suddenly the bombardiers were making layups. It worked because they erased the lead and went in front themselves at the 10-minute mark on – what else but a lay-up.
As wave after wave of Patriot substitutions came and went on the floor, Chowan was never able to recover. They chipped away, though, until there was less than a minute to play and trailed by five, 86-81, on a pair of Ross free throws.
But FMU made four in a row at the line themselves; and despite a late Chowan layup, the Pats (4-1) claimed the seven-point win.
We’ve got 21 games left,” said McDuffie afterward. “Hopefully the message will be that if we play together we’ll get some more wins.” Bethel echoed that with, “Everybody’s going to stay and work so we can get ready for conference.”
Chowan falls to 5-3 and is done with play for the rest of calendar year. They’ll open 2013 hosting Fayetteville State on January 3 with a 7:30 p.m. tip-off to open conference play.