After soundly beating the No.2 ranked team, Clayton State, at home, the UNCP men’s basketball team hit the road for the first of a consecutive away game stint, but struggled against the Patriots of Francis Marion, losing 90-83.
The Braves faced off against the Patriots just over state lines in Florence, S.C. at the Smith University Center on Jan. 24.
With the 18 turnovers forced by the home team and with the Patriots’ best statistical shooting performance in over a month, the home team was able to beat a high-flying Braves team that came into the matchup ranked 21st in the nation, by a score of 90-83.
While the final margin of victory was a mere seven points, the visiting Braves never held the lead in the contest, and they were constantly trying to cut into the deficit. The Patriots led by as much as 13 points at one point in the evening, as they not only put an end to the Black and Gold’s nine game winning streak, but as well as their 11-game road winning streak against Peach Belt Conference competition.
Both teams had a good night shooting as they both shot better than 53 percent from the field in the first half. However, early struggles by the Braves offense resulted in the Patriots establishing a lead that they never would relinquish.
While the Black and Gold would valiantly battle back to bring the contest within as little as five points with under three minutes to go, they only connected on one of their final five attempts from the field to ensure their defeat and secure victory for the opposition.
Although the end result wasn’t in their favor in the final score, several Braves shined bright in the game. Freshman stalwart Tyrell Kirk shined the brightest as he led the team in rebounds with eight, assists with eight as well, a pair of steals and points with a career best 20. Seniors Nigel Grant and Brandon Watts came in second and third in scoring with 18 and 16 points, respectively.
Kirk’s fellow freshman compatriot David Strother also notched double digit points with 13, and the Lumberton product also came in second on the team in assists with five.