FLORENCE, S.C. – The Francis Marion University men’s and women’s basketball teams will play host to the University of North Florida on Youth Basketball League Day, Saturday afternoon (Jan. 24) in the Smith University Center.
The twinbill will start with the women’s game at 2 p.m., followed by the men’s contest at 4 p.m. All players from the Florence YMCA Youth League and the Florence Country Recreation Youth League will be admitted free, along with their coach. All those accompanying the youths will be admitted for $1 each. All players are encouraged to wear their uniforms, and those teams present will be recognized at halftime of the men’s game.
The North Division leading and 17th-ranked FMU men (15-1, 5-0) will face a 9-7 (1-4 in the PBC) UNF squad that has dropped five of its last seven games.
A win Saturday would equal FMU’s best start in PBC play (6-0), previously accomplished in 1997-98. FMU owns a one-game lead over Augusta State University (4-1) in the North Division standings. Francis Marion is already assured of its first overall winning season in five years.
UNF leads the relatively short all-time series 4-2. FMU won the opening two games, but the Ospreys have won the last four meetings, including a lopsided 71-50 win in Jacksonville last year.
The frontline trio of forwards Louis McCullough (16.8 points and 8.1 rebounds per game) and Randy Williams (13.4 ppg, 6.1 rpg) and center Jaquan Bracey (11.1 ppg, 8.8 rpg) continue to lead the Patriots. Senior guard Mike Buglione has come off the Patriot bench to average 15 ppg over the last three contests.
UNF is led by Columbia native Derrick Scott, who is averaging 17.1 ppg from his guard position.
Following a big PBC road win on Wednesday, the Patriot women (9-5, 3-2) will look to upset sixth-ranked UNF (15-1, 4-1). The Ospreys’ lone loss was a 61-57 decision at Columbus State University, at which point UNF was ranked No. 2 in the nation.
The Ospreys are the highest-ranked opponent to play in the Smith University Center since the Patriots defeated sixth-ranked Bowie State University 62-52 in the 1998 NCAA Division II South Atlantic Regional title game. FMU has lost seven straight games to ranked opponents and over the past seven seasons is 11-11 against ranked foes.
Three Patriots are scoring in double figures: sophomore Danielle Moore (12.9 ppg, 6.6 rpg), junior guard Jennifer Howard (11.0 ppg), and senior center Joanna Tincher (10.4, 6.3 rpg), who along with UNF’s Brittney Davis, shares the conference lead in field goal percentage at 57.3 percent.
PBC Player of the Year candidate Skye Barber leads UNF in scoring (16.2 ppg), rebounding (7.9 rpg), and steals (38).
Francis Marion won the first seven games of the series with the UNF women, before the Ospreys captured a 61-58 victory in Jacksonville last season. FMU has won nine of its last 12 conference home contests.