Tirae Stevens, Staff Writer
The Armstrong State University men’s and women’s basketball teams hosted Peach Belt Conference rivals Francis Marion University on Saturday, Feb. 18 in the final home games of the regular season. Both teams took the time to honor their senior players before the games.
In the first game, the women’s basketball team opened the game with a ceremony to recognize their four senior players: Brigitta Barta, Brooklyn Heilman, Jessica Doyle, and Deundria Clark. On to the game, the Pirates went on an early first quarter run with an 8-2 advantage over Francis Marion, but the Patriots went on a 15-2 streak of their own and capitalized on 13 Pirate turnovers to carry a 32-25 lead into halftime.
Senior Brooklyn Heilman sparked the Pirate offense with a three-point jump shot to start the third quarter, but another run on the part of Francis Marion kept the Patriots ahead of the Pirates going into the fourth quarter. In the fourth quarter, a successful layup by junior Lauren Woods helped Armstrong cut the Patriots’ lead to four points, but missed chances to score doomed the Pirates and allowed Francis Marion to pick up the 61-50 victory. The Pirates were led offensively by junior Machala Raymonville, who had 13 points. Junior Kasey Drayton contributed a double-double as well with 10 points and 10 rebounds.
“It was a tough loss for us for sure,” Armstrong women’s head coach Fala Bullock said after the game. “Emotions were definitely high for us. With this possibly being our last game here at the Alumni Arena and with it being senior night, we really wanted to bring home a win. But everyone gave their all, including our seniors. I couldn’t be more proud of them and what they’ve done for our program.”
On the men’s side, the Pirates held an opening ceremony for their four seniors as well: George Brown, Jamison Jeffers, Loren Hall, and Denzel Collins. The Pirates held the advantage throughout most of the first 10 minutes of play, but Francis Marion’s duo of Detrek Browning and Brandon Parker fueled the Patriot offense and allowed them to build a 39-27 lead late in the first half. The Pirates were able to cut the lead to just five points, 43-38, going into halftime.
Coming out of halftime, Armstrong State battled their way to a 77-all tie with three and a half minutes to go thanks to a three-point shot from freshman Corey Tillery. The made basket was Tillery’s record-tying 91st of the season. Offensive efforts from junior Denzel Council and Kalen Clifton helped propel the Pirates to the 88-83 victory. Clifton led the day for Armstrong with 28 points, followed by Council with 21 points and junior KJ James with 11 points.
“This was a big win for our guys today, and one we really needed,” men’s head coach Evans Davis said. “It was a great way to end the home game stretch for our seniors, our alum, and our fans.”
Armstrong men’s and women’s basketball will compete in their final regular season games against Flagler College Wednesday, Feb. 22.