Panthers Complete Second Half Comeback To Grab Win In Season Opener

Local Sports

RALEIGH, N.C. — The Ferrum College men’s basketball team tipped its season off on the winning side in a non-conference contest on the road at William Peace University Tuesday night. Head Coach Tyler Sanborn’s side erased a 12-point second half deficit to top the Pacers 76-73 inside the Hermann Athletic Center.

RECORDS
Ferrum (1-0)
WPU (0-1)

THE BASICS
The Panthers jumped out to an early 5-0 lead, the largest of the game for Ferrum. Both teams would then trade baskets until a John Burwell would give the Pacers the 13-11, their first of the game. A Cole Atwood trey with 5:21 left in the first half propelled William Peace to the 30-24 lead, matching their highest of the half. Both teams again traded blows, but a Tyler Parton three with 11 ticks left would send the Pacers into the locker room with a 40-39 lead at the break.

James Smith Jr. led the way for the Panthers in the first half, starting the game 4-7 from the field for an early 12 points to add to his five assists and three boards. Darius Kemp also had an efficient first half in his Ferrum debut, converting four of six attempts from the field for 10 points. Carrington Young would not find himself in the scoring column in the first half, but he was able to pull down a team-high five rebounds. For William Peace, it was the John Burwell show in the first half. Burwell led the way with 14 points, to go along with four steals and three dimes. Jalen Owens added 10 points and Tyler Parton added a trey and three steals.

William Peace opened the second half on a 9-0 run, pushing the lead to double digits at 49-39. A Smith Jr. layup at the 16:35 minute mark stopped the run and served as the first Panther points in the closing frame. The Pacer lead rose to as high as 12 with an Owens trey with 13:17 to play, but Nick Helton would answer right back with a three of his own on the next possession to bring it back to single digits. A Kajuan Madden-McAfee layup with 6:43 left would start a 9-0 run to get the Panthers within striking distance in the closing minutes. The Panthers would see their first lead of the second half with a Madden-McAfee trey with 1:32 to play, 72-70. Parton would answer right back with a three of his own to put the Pacers back up 73-72, but a Carrington Young tip-in with :18 left would prove to be the difference in this one. Helton would hit two free throws to ice it in the closing seconds.

Helton had a huge second half for the Panthers, recording 16 points, in the form of four treys and 4-4 from the charity stripe. Madden-McAfee added eight points and eight rebounds, Smith Jr. added eight points of his own and Kemp pulled down six rebounds with his two steals. Burwell continued his strong night with 12 second-half points. Parton added a three and four rebounds, and Donolly Tyrell Jr. added four rebounds as well for the Pacers.

KEY STATS
Ferrum: Helton 22 pts; Smith 20 pts, 6 ast; Madden-McAfee 14 pts, 9 reb; Kemp 12 pts, 8 reb; Young 11 reb
WPU: Burwell 26 pts; Owens 16 pts; Atwood 10 pts; Tyrell 5 pts, 5 reb

BEHIND THE WHISTLE
“It was ugly, but we are excited to be able to start the season with a win. With limited practice time and some new pieces in our rotation, we knew there would be some growing pains, which were evident tonight. Fortunately, we found a way and I will never complain about a win. I am excited for our guys to experience some success. Back to work tomorrow!” –Head Coach Tyler Sanborn

UP NEXT
Coach Sanborn’s team will welcome the Pacers into Swartz Gym on Thursday, January 14 in the Panther’s last non-conference matchup before league play kicks off. The home opener is set for a 5:00 p.m. tip. 

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