Francis Marion falls to UNC Pembroke in NCAA DII Basketball Tournament

David Strother hit a shot at the buzzer to give UNC Pembroke a 75-72 opening round win at the NCAA Division II basketball tournament. PHOTO CREDIT: UNC Pembroke

HARROGATE, Tenn. – The third-seeded and 24th-ranked UNC Pembroke men's basketball team scored 26 points off of 17 turnovers and used a 25-foot jumper from David Strother at the buzzer to shock sixth-seeded Francis Marion, 75-72, in the quarterfinal round of the NCAA Southeast Regional on Saturday afternoon inside the B. Frank "Tex" Turner Arena on the campus of Lincoln Memorial University.

The victory helped the Braves (27-5) match a 27-year-old school record with their 27th victory of the season, while also giving UNCP its second victory in NCAA Tournament play. It was the third-straight series loss of the season for the Patriots (20-10) who entered the NCAA postseason sporting their first 20-win campaign in 14 years.

James Murray-Boyles came off the bench to register a team-best 15 points on 6-of-11 shooting and lead a sextet of Braves with double-figure scoring days. Akia Pruitt connected on all five of his field goal attempts and finished the day with 11 points, six rebounds and a pair of blocks.

Peach Belt Conference Player of the Year Detrek Browning tallied 27 points to move atop the PBC's all-time scoring list and pace the Patriots, while Brandon Parker finished with 14 points and five boards.

Francis Marion led by as many as seven points, 43-36, after Browning's 3-pointer just 24 seconds into the second period, but the Braves chipped away at their deficit and eventually evened things back up on a layup from Micah Kinsey five minutes later. A running jumper by Strother with 97 seconds left to play gave UNCP a seemingly comfortable 72-66 advantage, but the Patriots forced a clutch turnover via an offensive foul by Nigel Grant with 39 ticks left, and Parker drained a 3-pointer from the corner to knot the score up with seven seconds remaining.

The Braves shot 46 percent in the opening half and led 17-8 after a 3-pointer by Murray-Boyles just 6-1/2 minutes into the contest, but a short jumper by Ryan Davis at the 11:14 mark signaled the start of a 7-0 scoring spurt by the Patriots that allowed them to climb back into the game. Francis Marion took its first lead of the contest on a Browning layup with 8:29 left before intermission and eventually took a 40-36 advantage into the locker rooms.

The Braves will battle the winner of Saturday's quarterfinal matchup between second-seeded and seventh-ranked Queens (28-3) and seventh-seeded Lees-McRae (23-8). Sunday's semifinal matchup is slated for a 5 p.m. tipoff.

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