Patriots tangle with Pirates on Saturday in Florence

FLORENCE, SC (WMBF) - Both the Francis Marion University men's and women's basketball teams will play their first home games of the New Year on Saturday (Jan. 4) when the Patriots play  Armstrong Atlantic State University on Florence Youth Basketball League (FYBL) Tip-Off Day.

The Peach Belt Conference doubleheader will start at 1:30 p.m. with the women's contest, followed by the men's game at 3:30 p.m. All FYBL players wearing their jerseys will be admitted free of charge as well as two accompanying guests being admitted free.

General admission to the doubleheader is $8 for adults and $5 for students (FMU students are admitted free with ID). The match will be streamed live online at and shown locally on Time Warner Cable channel 11, courtesy of the Patriot Sports Network.

The Francis Marion women (7-2, 2-1) have won three straight games and seven of their last eight to move into a first-place tie in the PBC's East Division standings. Junior guard Briana Robinson leads the Patriots with 12.7 points and 4.3 assists per game, while senior forward Dee Gray adds 11.3 points and 8.2 rebounds per game. The Patriots are third in the conference in scoring defense, surrendering only 58.7 ppg while holding opponents to 39.1 percent shooting.

The AASU women are 6-3 overall and 1-2 in the PBC following Thursday's 10-point home loss to seventh-ranked Clayton State University.

The Patriot men (3-6, 0-3) will be in search of their first conference win when they take the floor against the Pirates (5-5, 2-1). FMU is led by graduate student Evrik Gary with team-high averages of 20 points and 5.9 rebounds per game. He has pushed his career scoring total to 1,408 points, 10th best in school history and 47 points shy of former Patriot forward Franklin Bellamy who occupies ninth place with 1,455 points.

Francis Marion leads the all-time women's series 23-17, while the Pirates lead the men's series 27-17.

Following Saturday's contests, FMU will hit the road for three consecutive Peach Belt Conference road doubleheaders.

Copyright 2014 WMBF News. All right reserved. Francis Marion University's Media Relations contributed to this article.