The FMU women’s basketball team celebrated the last home game for its three seniors with a memorable 66-63 comeback victory on Monday, Feb. 20, against the Armstrong Atlantic State University Lady Pirates.
At the beginning of the evening, FMU honored senior forwards Simone Trice, Danielle Gibson and T.T. Belcher.
Trice, who scored 10 points and captured eight rebounds, said that the pregame ceremony and the significance of the night for her team put everyone in a different place emotionally, and that the emotions her team felt actually helped them pick up the Peach Belt Conference victory.
“Emotionally, I was just lost for words,” Trice said. “I know that our team wanted to play for the seniors tonight. All of us really stepped up.”
Trice also said that this win came down to heart, and that her team wanted it more than AASU.
“I was going to do whatever I had to do to help us win this game,” Trice said.
After the pregame ceremonies and the start of the game, it became clear that the Patriots were in for a real dogfight.
FMU held a 16-5 advantage with 14 minutes and 39 seconds in the first half after a layup by Belcher, but a late jumper by junior guard Karolina Rykowska was the highlight of a fierce AASU comeback. At the end of the first half, the Pirates held a 37-35 lead.
The Pirates led for almost the entire second half. With 6 minutes and 52 seconds left, AASU held its largest lead at 61-48, as junior guard/ forward Demisha Mills completed a three-point play on a foul by FMU sophomore guard and leading scorer Brittany Christian.
But this Senior Night game was far from over. Over the next four minutes of the game, the Patriots would go on a 13-0 run, which began thanks to a Christian three-pointer. FMU finally took its first lead of the second half with 57 seconds remaining on a jumper from freshman guard Chelsey Johnson.
AASU would go scoreless for the last 2 minutes and 35 seconds of the game. With the score at 64-63, junior guard Carmella Thompson hit two late free throws to give FMU the 66-63 advantage.
FMU assistant coach Lauren Casey said that one of the major determining factors in the game was the way her team completed offensive opportunities.
“We finished around the basket,” Casey said. “Simone and T.T. made good moves inside.”
For FMU, Danielle Gibson finished the game with 11 points, while Belcher had 12. Brittany Christian led all Patriots players with 14.
AASU was led by junior forward/center D.D. Gipson with 17 points and eight rebounds, while Rykowska scored 11 of her own.
The Patriots held a huge advantage over AASU in points in the point (46-22), bench points (26-16) and fast break points (12-4).
Neither team performed well from the free-throw line. AASU shot only 10-of-17, while FMU shot 10-of-18, but the Patriots made key free throws when they needed to.
The Senior Night win increased FMU’s record to 9-16 overall (4-13 PBC record); meanwhile, the lost dropped AASU to 13-12 overall and 7-10 in PBC play.