Patriots storm back for 96-76 win over Bobcats

BANNER ELK, N.C. --- The Francis Marion University men's basketball team closed the first half with a 24-12 run, and outscored Lees-McRae College by a 56-35 margin in the final 20 minutes to rally for a 96-76 victory in the second game of the 2013 Americourt Hotels Basketball Classic in Williams Gymnasium on Friday evening.

Francis Marion (2-0) posted a field goal percentage of 41.8 percent on the night, including a 51.6 percent clip in the second half, while holding Lees-McRae (3-3) to a mark of 40 percent from the floor.

The Patriots won the battle on the glass by a 49-37 margin, including a 16-9 advantage on the offensive boards, and converted 26-of-35 attempts at the charity stripe. The teams combined for 24 three-pointers in the contest, as Francis Marion knocked down 14 trifectas and tallied 24 second-chance points.

Mike Chambers (Winston-Salem, N.C.) paced the Bobcats with 18 points on 6-of-10 shooting, including a 5-for-8 clip from the beyond the arc, as Darryl Bond (Nashville, Tenn.) added a double-double with 10 points and a game-high 12 rebounds. Darius Smith (Woodbridge, Va.) chipped in 11 points and a contest-best six assists for the Bobcats.

Evrik Gary poured in a game-high 31 points to lead the Patriots, including seven three-pointers, while pulling down eight rebounds. Mykel Harris came within one rebound of a double-double, chipping in 13 points and nine boards, as Dustin Jones and Robert Carpenter added 19 and 16 points, respectively.

The Bobcats stormed out of the gate with a 19-3 run in the first five minutes of the game, earning thunderous applause from the home crowd with an alley-oop slam from Smith and Bond, and capping the spurt with Chambers' second triple of the half at the 14:54 mark. Francis Marion would respond with a strong turnaround, slowly chipping away and cutting the lead to 29-25 on back-to-back treys by Gary with 4:39 left on the clock.

The Patriots continued to push the attack through the remainder of the half, taking their first lead of the game on a three-point play by Gary, before Chase Arnold (Kingsport, Tenn.) gave the Bobcats a narrow 41-40 advantage heading into the intermission with a late lay-in.

Francis Marion hit the ground running in the second half, opening the period with a 25-10 run to open a 65-51 margin on a Gary trey with 11:36 to play. The Bobcats would fight back over the next few minutes, closing the gap to 67-61 following a Chambers triple at the 9:52 mark.

The Patriots answered with a 15-5 spurt, pushing the advantage to 82-66 on a Jones trifecta with 6:27 left on the clock. Francis Marion would hold on from there, tallying 14 of the Bobcats' final 24 points en route to the come-from-behind victory.

Lees-McRae returns to the court on Saturday afternoon when the Bobcats square off with Bluefield State College at 4 p.m. in the final game of the Americourt Hotels Basketball Classic in Williams Gymnasium. Francis Marion kicks off the afternoon against North Greenville University at 2 p.m.

- LMC -