Banner Elk, NC – The “Cardiac Crusaders” struck again as Phillip Brown hit two late free throw to earn a 90-89 comeback victory over the Patriots of Francis Marion University in the final game of the Lees-McRae Classic.
The Crusaders started strong and held a lead for the first five minutes of action until the Patriots put together a 12-2 run over a three minute span to claim a seven-point lead midway through the half.
Francis Marion extended its lead to as large as 17 points late in the half as the Patriots carried a 52-39 lead into intermission.
After the halftime break, Francis Marion held onto a double-digit lead for the first 11 minutes of action, before six straight points by Brown brought the Crusaders within four points with just over five minutes to play.
A three-pointer by senior Chris Dean gave the Crusaders their first lead of the second half at 80-78 with four minutes remaining on the clock. However, North Greenville and Francis Marion traded baskets for the final two minutes of play until a foul by Patriots forward Mykel Harris sent Brown to the free throw line with :04 left to play.
Brown hit both free throws for a one-point lead and the Crusader defense held strong as Francis Marion was able to attempt a last-second shot to claim the team’s fifth straight victory of the season.
Junior Micah Parker led all scorers with 23 points with six rebounds, while Brown totaled his third double-double in a row with 21 points and 12 rebounds. Dean totaled 20 points and seven rebounds of his own as fellow senior Keith Johnson recorded 18 points and seven rebounds in minutes of play.
The Crusaders (5-2, 1-0 Conference Carolinas) will have some time off before hosting Limestone College on Tuesday, Dec. 3 at 7:30 p.m. in Hayes Gymnasium.