COLUMBUS, GA – Entering the game’s final minute with a one-point lead, two turnovers proved costly for Francis Marion University and allowed 17th-ranked University of Montevallo to score the final eight points of the contest and grab an 85-80 victory, Friday afternoon (March 7) in the first quarterfinal game of the 2014 Peach Belt Conference Men’s Basketball Tournament.
Francis Marion, the fourth seed from the PBC’s East Division, ends its season at 12-15. The Falcons, top-seed from the West Division, improve to 23-4 and advance to Saturday’s first semifinal game.
Graduate student Evrik Gary scored 34 points to lead the Patriots, including 28 points in the second half. The point total was one shy of his career high and the third time he has scored 34 in FMU’s last four games. Over the final five games of the year – four of which were wins that got the Patriots into the tournament – Gary averaged 31.6 ppg. The 6-3 Camden native ends his career with 1,787 points, second-best in FMU history and fourth-best in Peach Belt history.
Senior forward Robert Carpenter scored a season-high 20 points to follow Gary. Carpenter scored 12 of his points in the opening half and kept the Patriots in the game early with some key buckets.
FMU junior point guard David Brown came off the bench to score a career-high 11 points as he made both of his three-point attempts and all five of his free throws.
PBC Player of the Year Troran Brown led Montevallo with 29 points, 12 rebounds, and six assists. Junior 6-8 forward Larry Slaughter added 21 points and 12 rebounds.
A bucket by Gary gave Francis Marion a four-point lead (78-74) with 2:56 remaining. Montevallo cut the margin to one on a three-pointer by Shykeem Jackson, but Gary quickly responded with an inside hoop to make the score 80-77 with 2:26 left.
A basket by Brown trimmed the lead to 80-79 entering the final minute, and following an FMU turnover, Ryan May converted two free throws to put the Falcons up 81-80 with 45.2 ticks on the clock. Francis Marion turned the ball over on its next possession and the Falcons’ lead grew to two (82-80) on one free throw by Brown with 23 seconds left.
On the next possession, Gary drove to the baseline, but his one-handed jumper from 10 feet went in and out and the Falcons rebounded the miss. One free throw with 12.1 seconds on the clock made it a three-point game, but FMU junior Dustin Jones missed a three-pointer with less than 10 ticks remaining and Montevallo sealed the victory with two more free throws.
FMU made only three of its first 17 field goal attempts as the Falcons raced to a 28-11 lead midway through the first stanza. Six points from Carpenter helped start a 23-5 FMU run that erased the deficit and gave the Patriots a 34-33 advantage after a 16-foot jumper from the left side by Gary.
Brown answered with a jumper and Slaughter added a dunk to give Montevallo a 37-34 halftime lead.
Montevallo led by as many as eight in the second half before Gary helped to rally the Patriots. At one point, Gary scored 21 of FMU’s 32 points as the Patriots rallied to take a 68-67 lead
FMU head coach Gary Edwards said, “I was proud of the way the guys battled and put us in a position to win the game. I thought we were anxious early, but then two things happened: we got some stops on the defensive end and we started making some shots.
This was truly a match-up of the league’s two best players (Gary and Brown). Unfortunately, two untimely turnovers proved very costly.
“I wish that Evrik’s career could have ended in a more storybook fashion, but over the last month he has been the best player in the conference. His play down the stretch has been unbelievable, and without his play we would not have qualified for the tournament. He has been a role model for everyone, both on the court and in the classroom."
3-7-14 1 p.m. at Columbus, Ga. (Lumpkin Center)
MONTEVALLO 85, FRANCIS MARION 80
FRANCIS MARION (12-15)
Evrik Gary 10-20 12-15 34; Robert Carpenter 7-18 5-6 20; David Brown 2-2 5-5
11; Dustin Jones 2-10 0-0 5; Mykel Harris 1-4 1-2 4; Luka Zivkovic 1-7 0-0
3; Trevonte Dixon 1-3 0-0 3; Alex Bryant 0-0 0-0 0; Tyler Deihl 0-4 0-0 0.
Totals 24-68 23-28 80.
Brown, Troran 10-23 7-8 29; Slaughter, Larry 9-11 3-4 21; Brazier, Orlando
5-8 5-6 15; Jackson, Shykeem 2-6 2-2 7; Stowers, Darius 2-4 0-3 4; Key,
Kimani 1-2 0-0 3; Cooper, Da-Juan 1-3 1-4 3; May, Ryan 0-5 2-2 2; Mills,
Silas 0-1 1-2 1. Totals 30-63 21-31 85.
Halftime: Montevallo 37 Francis Marion 34
3-point goals--Francis Marion 9-35 (David Brown 2-2; Evrik Gary 2-6; Luka
Zivkovic 1-6; Mykel Harris 1-2; Dustin Jones 1-7; Robert Carpenter 1-6;
Trevonte Dixon 1-2; Tyler Deihl 0-4), Montevallo 4-15 (Brown, Troran 2-7;
Jackson, Shykeem 1-3; Key, Kimani 1-2; May, Ryan 0-3). Fouled out--Francis
Marion-None, Montevallo-Stowers, Darius. Rebounds--Francis Marion 33 (Robert
Carpenter 8), Montevallo 48 (Slaughter, Larry 12; Brown, Troran 12).
Assists--Francis Marion 10 (Tyler Deihl 3), Montevallo 15 (Brown, Troran 6).
Total fouls--Francis Marion 23, Montevallo 25. Technical fouls--Francis
Marion-None, Montevallo-Stowers, Darius. A-182