Following a break for the holidays, the Francis Marion University men's and women's basketball teams return to the Smith University Center on Saturday (Jan. 5) to begin 2019 with a doubleheader against Peach Belt Conference foe Young Harris College. The women's contest will tip-off at 1:30 p.m., with the men's contest to follow at 3:30 p.m.
FMU will hold a "5 for $5 on the 5th" ticket promotion for the doubleheader. The 5 for $5 promotion allows five people to get in for $1 each to see both games. Tickets may be purchased at the door. Both contests will also be streamed live online courtesy of the Patriot Sports Network.
On the women's side, the Patriots (4-3, 1-2) are coming off a loss at Columbus State University their last time out on Dec. 19. FMU's 1-2 record has it in a five-way tie for sixth place in the PBC standings.
Francis Marion senior Shaunice Fulmore leads the PBC and ranks top-10 nationally in NCAA Division II in scoring, averaging 23.7 points per contest. The Lake City native is also in the top-10 in the conference in both field goal percentage (48.9 percent) and three-point percentage (37.0 percent). With 1,524 career points, Fulmore needs 23 to pass Christy Wright for eighth place on the FMU career scoring list and 13th place on the PBC career list.
Graduate student forward Briana Burgins paces FMU and is fourth in the PBC in rebounding, averaging 8.6 per game. She also ranks eighth in the league in scoring (14.6 ppg) and seventh in field goal percentage (50.8 percent). Sophomore forward Kiana Adderton is averaging 14.0 points per contest, and has scored in double-figures in all three games she has played since making her Patriot debut on Dec. 14 at Claflin University.
The Mountain Lions (3-8, 1-4) enter Saturday having lost back-to-back conference tilts, including an 88-56 setback at Lander University on Wednesday. Senior Pamela Diokpara leads Young Harris with 9.3 points and 9.8 rebounds per game. Her 9.8 rebounds per contest ranks second in the conference. The Mountain Lions rank last in the PBC in offense, scoring just 55.2 points per contest, but rank fourth in defense, allowing 66.5 points per game.
Saturday will be the eighth all-time meeting between Francis Marion and Young Harris in women's basketball, with the Patriots owning a 4-3 lead in the series.
The men's tilt will feature two of the top offenses in the Peach Belt. FMU (7-1, 3-0) boasts the best offense in the conference, averaging 90.6 points per game, while Young Harris (4-7, 2-3) ranks third at 85.6 per contest.
The Patriots have won seven straight and are ranked fourth in the most recent D2SIDA Southeast Region poll. It is the fourth time in the past five seasons FMU has started 7-1 or better through eight games, and second straight season it has started 3-0 in conference play. Francis Marion has won 10 straight in the Smith University Center, its longest home winning streak since the 2003-04 campaign.
All five FMU starters are averaging double-digits, led by senior forward Brandon Parker, whose 18.5 points per game ranks third in the PBC. Freshman forward Kailex Stephens sits 10th in the league in scoring (15.5 ppg) and ninth in rebounding (7.1 rpg). Stephens is the lone Patriot to have scored in double-figures in all eight contests, and his 15.5 ppg is tops amongst all PBC freshmen.
Also averaging double-digits for Francis Marion are senior guard Ryan Davis (14.3 ppg), senior forward Je'Quan Perry (12.0 ppg), and junior guard Jaquez Smith (11.5 ppg). Davis (4.3) and Smith (3.6) rank sixth and tenth, respectively, in assists per game.
Young Harris is coming off of a record-setting 128-121 loss at Lander on Wednesday, where the Mountain Lions made a PBC-game record 24 three-point buckets and the combined score total was a record for a conference tilt. Junior guard Justin Jones poured in 37 for the Mountain Lions in Wednesday's loss to raise his scoring average to 17.5 per game, fourth-best in the Peach Belt, while junior guard Alphonso Willis is pouring in 22.3 ppg, but has played only four contests. Junior guard Brian Harper is handing out 6.2 assists per contest, which ranks second in the conference.
Saturday's meeting will be the eighth all-time between Francis Marion and Young Harris in men's basketball, with the Mountain Lions holding a 4-3 edge. The home team has won each of the previous seven meetings.