MONTGOMERY, Ala. - With Mobile having clawed back from eight points down to within two in the final half-minute, Faulkner needed somebody to stem the tide. Enter senior guard Chris Palmore, who's 14-footer with 26 seconds left provided enough margin as the Eagles held on for a 63-60 victory here Saturday afternoon in a Southern States Athletic Conference West division showdown at Tine Davis Gymnasium.
Adam Okechukwu's basket with 4:03 left gave Faulkner a 59-51 lead, but the Rams refused to wilt, scoring on three consecutive possessions to trim the deficit to 59-57 with 48 seconds on the clock. It was then that Palmore took over, driving the lane and hitting a fall-away 14-footer that proved to be the game-winner. His two free throws with 15 seconds left pushed the lead to six, and the Eagles survived a frantic finish to move to 10-11 overall and 3-8 in the SSAC.
Mobile (9-12 overall, 5-6 SSAC), cut the lead to three on Ji Kimbrough's conventional three-point play with 7 seconds left and had a chance to tie it after Faulkner's Duke Phillips missed a pair of free throws, but Kimbrough's desperation try from 30-feet was too hard off the backboard.
"Chris wanted the ball and it ended up in his hands, and that's usually a good thing," Faulkner head coach Jim Sanderson said. "He's helped us win a lot of games here, and made it happen again. I'm just happy for our guys, who really needed a win. Things have been tough, but these guys have kept the faith. We just need to play them one at a time from here on in and see what happens."
The top five teams in both the East and West divisions of the SSAC make the post-season tournament, and currently the Eagles are along in fifth place, one game ahead of Auburn Montgomery. The two teams face off at AUM Thursday night.
Palmore led Faulkner's offensive output with 18 points, while fellow senior Adam Okechukwu added 14. Okechukwu's seven rebounds were a game-high. Jake Mitchell chipped in 10 for the Eagles. Kimbrough paced the Rams with 19 points, with Jonathan Tinch following with 13 and Antonio Hester 10.
The Eagles found a way to win despite committing 24 turnovers, nine more than Mobile. Faulkner did win the rebounding battle 31-23 and outshot the visitors from the field 49 percent to 39 percent.
The Eagles held Mobile without a field goal in the final 7:09 of the first half, and made three of their six 3-point attempts in building a 30-25 advantage at intermission. The lead increased to as many as 13 in the second half before Mobile made it interesting down the stretch
Thursday's Faulkner-AUM game tips off at 7:30 at the Warhawks' Physical Education Complex.