MONTGOMERY, Ala. - Seniors Adam Okechukwu and Chris Palmore both hit big shots in a key stretch as Faulkner broke open a close game and raced away to a 66-56 victory over Auburn Montgomery here Thursday night in a crucial Southern States Athletic Conference showdown at the Physical Education Complex on the AUM campus.
With the Warhawks having sliced an eight-point Faulkner lead to a single point at 43-42 with 9:39 to play, Palmore hit a 15-footer and Okechukwu followed moments later with a long 3-pointer as the Eagles regained the momentum. AUM never got closer than five points the rest of the way as Faulkner made eight consecutive free throws down the stretch.
"This was a big win for our basketball team," Faulkner head coach Jim Sanderson said. "We're battling back after those tough losses early in conference play. I challenged our guys about 10 days ago to not lower the standard, and both Adam and Chris have responded as leaders of this team.
"The atmosphere tonight was incredible, and I want to thank our students, faculty and administration for showing up in support of us tonight. I hope we can continue to play with this kind of effort and passion."
Okechukwu finished with 20 points and Palmore added 11 points and 10 rebounds for the Eagles (11-11 overall, 4-8 SSAC), who has won back-to-back SSAC games for the first time this season. Jake Mitchell added 11 as well for Faulkner, which also got 10 points from Decorey Jones.
With the loss Auburn Montgomery (5-17 overall, 2-10 SSAC) fell two games back of Faulkner for the all-important fifth spot in the SSAC West standings. The top five teams in each division make the SSAC Tournament in early March. The Warhawks were paced by Marquez Brooks' 17 points. Michael Lee added 10 points and Alex Hergott had a double-double, scoring 10 points and pulling down 10 rebounds.
Faulkner built as much as a nine-point lead in the first half but the Senators closed the opening 20 minutes with the final four points to trim the margin to 30-27 at the break.
Faulkner travels to Hattiesburg, Miss., Thursday night to face William Carey in an SSAC West Divisional showdown. The game tips off at 5:30.