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Fayetteville 100, Austin 95

Patriots Nip Toros

AUSTIN, Texas, Nov. 26 -- After almost letting a 13 point lead slip away, the Fayetteville Patriots rallied to knock off the Austin Toros 100-95 in the inaugural home opener at the Austin Convention Center.

Former Kentucky forward Erik Daniels continued his early-season scoring onslaught, leading the Patriots with a game-high 21 points to go with nine rebounds. Carlos Hurt and Mike King added 14 and 13 points, respectively.

Ezra Williams led Austin with 19 points off the bench, and Derrick Zimmerman and Andre Emmett each chipped in with 16 points. Jamar Smith pulled down a team-high eight rebounds.

“This was a huge win for our team tonight,” said Fayetteville head coach Mike Brown. “To come in against a very loud and hostile crowd and grab a win is always tough to do. But our guys executed down the stretch and made the key shots when they had to.”

“Erik (Daniels) made a lot of big shots for them,” said Williams, who also pulled in five rebounds. “And when he wasn’t shooting the ball, he was setting the other guys up on the floor perfectly. We fought back, but just ran out of time.”

After leading by seven points at the half, Fayetteville opened the third quarter on a 10-4 run to extend its lead to 13 points. Sparked by tenacious defense, the Toros went on an 11-2 run in the final 3:32 of the third quarter to close the gap to 71-67 heading into the final period.

“When guys are comfortable on the court, we shoot the ball well,” said Austin head coach Dennis Johnson. “But when we’re not comfortable, we have a tendency to second-guess what we want to do on the court. But, with us getting Marcus (Fizer) in this week and kind of force-feeding him on the floor, we knew we would run into some problems. But with a few days off before our next game, we hope to be able to work those problems out.”

After trailing for most of the game, Austin took a short-lived lead at 78-77 behind a put-back by Smith at 7:49 of the fourth quarter. After trading baskets for the next six minutes, Fayetteville found themselves leading 90-87 with a little less than two minutes left to play. Hurt then silenced the crowd with a long-range 3-pointer with 1:41 left.

Austin would never get closer than five points as Fayetteville hit its free throws down the stretch to hold on for the win.

“That’s a huge reason for us losing tonight too,” said Williams. “They made free throws and we didn’t.”

Austin shot just 19-of-31 (61.3 percent) from the free throw line while the Patriots nailed 27-of-34 (79.4 percent) from the stripe. Austin also committed nine of its 19 turnovers in the first quarter while Fayetteville finished with just 14 miscues.