FLORENCE, S.C. – The Francis Marion University men’s basketball team jumped up three positions to ninth in the latest NABC/Division II Bulletin Top 25 poll released Tuesday, the program’s highest ranking in 18 seasons.
Both the FMU men’s and women’s basketball teams will play their final regular-season road contests on Wednesday (Feb. 25), when the Patriots visit UNC Pembroke. The women’s game will start at 5:30 p.m. in the Jones Athletic Center, followed by the men’s contest at 7:30 p.m.
The 23-2 FMU men crack the Top 10 for the first time since the 1985-86 squad reached the No. 6 position midway through that season. The North Division-leading squad can equal the team record for victories in a season (24) with a win on Wednesday over the Braves (3-21, 2-12). The 1979-80 Patriot team registered a 24-7 mark. Twenty-four wins would also equal the number of wins for the Patriots over the past three years combined.
FMU has already wrapped up the No. 1 seed from the North Division, and following Saturday’s regular-season finale against Augusta State University, the Patriots will play in the PBC Tournament quarterfinals, Friday (March 5) at 1 p.m. The Patriots are also gunning for their first-ever NCAA Division II national tournament berth, and the possibility of hosting the NCAA II South Atlantic Regional Tournament.
FMU has beaten the Braves three straight times, including an 87-73 decision two weeks ago in Florence. The frontline of junior forward Louis McCullough (17.6 points and 7.9 rebounds per game), senior forward Randy Williams (13.4 ppg, 6.2 rpg), and senior center Jaquan Bracey (10.3 ppg, 8.0 rpg) pace the Patriot attack.
The Francis Marion women (12-11, 6-8) need a win to help solidify their hold on the No. 3 seed in the North Division. The UNCP women are 7-18 overall and 1-13 in the PBC. The Patriots have dropped their last three games since beating UNCP 71-60 on Feb. 11. FMU has won 14 of the last 15 meetings between the two programs.
The FMU attack features three players scoring in double figures: sophomore forward Danielle Moore (12.5 ppg), junior guard Jennifer Howard (10.5 ppg) and senior center Joanna Tincher (10.3 ppg, 6.6 rpg).
The Patriots will return home to host ASU on Saturday afternoon for Homecoming 2004 and Senior Day.
In the Top 25 poll, Metropolitan State College of Denver (23-2) ascended to the No. 1 position after Tarleton State University (22-3) suffered a loss last week. Kennesaw State University (24-4) moved up to No. 10 giving the Peach Belt two squads ranked in the Top 10.
The men’s basketball ranking also gave the FMU athletic program three squads ranked in the Top 10 nationally: baseball seventh, golf eighth, and men’s basketball ninth.