Patriots fall to Pembroke after a close game


Photo by: Ainara Eizaguirre Irastorza

Adonis Cole, a freshman, searches for a teammate to pass to.


After a close game with no more than a seven-point difference before the last five minutes, the Patriot men’s basketball team fell to the Pembroke Braves after a late scoring run.   

The Patriots previously defeated the Braves in Nov. of 2022, giving the Braves their first and only loss of the season. The Braves are currently ranked 10th and 12th in the NCAA Division II national polls.   

“We struggled for a little to find offense during the game,” senior guard and captain Alex Cox said. “We did not have the inside presence of Jonah, which hurt us at times. It took a little bit for everyone to get going and start clicking.”  

Sophomore center Jonah Pierce was out with an ankle injury from the previous game, which left the Patriots down a starter.   

Despite being a man down, four Patriots led the charge in their fight against the Braves. Cox scored 15 points with five rebounds, senior guard Tionne Rollins scored 13 points, sophomore guard Farid SaintCyr Jr. scored 11 points and senior forward Bryce Beamer scored 10 points.   

“We all knew this game would be a fight,” Cox said. “We beat them in the first matchup at their place, so we knew they wanted to get revenge. We knew a lot of their tendencies from the first game, so we took that into consideration.”  

With less than five minutes in the game, the score was separated by only one point. However, the Braves went on a 13-3 scoring run and emerged victorious.   

“The last four minutes came down to heart and who wanted it more,” Cox said. “Defense stops were big for us, and we just could not get the ones we wanted. Trading buckets, going back and forth is something that will not win games.”   

While the back and forth made it a game to watch, Cox said that defense was the component that lost the game.  

“You can score all the points you want, but if the other team is scoring just as much as you, then it is going to be a close game,” Cox said. “Pembroke got the stops they needed to win the game while we struggled to get some.”  

Cox said that the team is now focused on the next game against Barton College, sitting in the top two of the conference. They want to keep their eyes on winning the next game rather than focus too far into the future.   

“We sit pretty high in the conference standings right now, and I know the whole team wants to make it to Wofford to play in the finals of the conference tourney, but as of right now, we will focus on winning the next game and the game after that,” Cox said. “One game at a time.”  

Leading the Patriots into the rest of the season is the new official head coach, Jake Zehnder, and team captain, Cox.   

“Coach Z is amazing,” Cox said. “I am very happy he asked me to come back and play my fifth year here at FMU. He brings a lot of energy from the sidelines while he coaches. What he has done already in his first year as a head coach is quite amazing.”  

Zehnder uses Cox’s experience to help improve the team every game.   

“Being the longest-tenured player on the team, he gives me a lot of freedom to help impact the game,” Cox said. “He knows my knowledge of the game and sometimes comes to me and asks what I am thinking or what we should run in a certain situation. Having a coach like that who listens to his players is something that is not common. We all love playing for him, and I know he is going to do great things later on when I am gone. He holds everyone accountable for their mistakes and even holds himself accountable, which you do not see often.”  

FMU fans can catch Cox, Zehnder and the rest of the Patriots take the court more in February. The game calendar can be found on the FMU Patriots website.