Lady Braves fall to hot-shooting Francis Marion

By Brandon Tester - UNCP Correspondent

PEMBROKE — Poor shooting and a sluggish second quarter spoiled senior night for the UNCP women’s basketball team.

The Lady Braves (15-11, 10-9 PBC) fell to hot-shooting Francis Marion (17-11, 12-7 PBC) 68-52 on Wednesday night in the season finale for both teams.

The Lady Braves honored five seniors before the game. Jasmine Huntley, Airico Williams, Jonissa Monley, LaShonda Prichard and Phoenicia Lawson started for UNCP in their last game at Lumbee Guaranty Bank Court. Special arrangements were made for Huntley, the team’s routine starter at point guard, to leave the game immediately after tipoff due to a lingering foot injury.

“It’s kind of a day-by-day thing,” UNCP head coach John Haskins said regarding Huntley’s status. “We’re just waiting to see how that ankle responds.”

The Patriots went up by as much as 15-9 in the first quarter, but UNCP held the visitors scoreless over the last four minutes of the period and capitalized on 50 percent shooting to finish with a 16-15 lead.

UNCP began to experience offensive difficulties of their own in a second quarter that proved to be the game’s turning point. The Lady Braves shot just 1-of-11 from the field in that stretch, earning six of their eight points at the free throw line.

The Lady Braves also faltered defensively, allowing Francis Marion to register a 7-of-14 mark from 3-point range. The Patriots used a 9-0 run late in the second quarter to go into halftime with a 40-24 lead.

UNCP would not threaten the deficit until the fourth quarter, which began with an 8-2 run for the Lady Braves. A Brandi Robinson jumper cut the Patriot lead to 57-46 with just over six minutes to play, but Francis Marion responded by outscoring the Lady Braves 11-6 for the remainder of the game.

“You’ve got to really compete every possession, and I thought we did that better in the second half, so that’s something to build on,” Haskins said. “We only turned it over six times in the second half after turning over a bunch in the first half. The second half was much better.”

Ultimately, one of the biggest problems for the Lady Braves was shooting. UNCP shot just 29 percent from the field, including a dismal 3-of-17 mark from 3-point range.

“We have to score,” Haskins said. “We have to figure out a way to put the ball in the basket. We’ve really gotten into a funk where we’ve had some bad quarters. If we score decently in the second quarter, it’s a whole different ballgame.”

Brianna Baham tallied a team-high 14 points and seven rebounds for UNCP. Williams notched a double-double with 10 points and 13 rebounds.

Shaunice Fulmore paced Francis Marion with 20 points. Khai Chandler added 18 for the Patriots, who finished 10-of-21 from 3-point range and converted on 45 percent of their field goals.

By Brandon Tester

UNCP Correspondent

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