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Christmas comes early for Gardner-Webb, Rice and FIU

Credit: Bob Carey / Gardner-Webb

Christmas came early for three Division I teams as they treated themselves to some early presents against lower division competition on Thursday afternoon.

Coming off its first NCAA Tournament appearance in program history, Gardner-Webb (3-8) had been struggling through the first six weeks of the season, but found itself in a festive mood as Jose Perez scored a career-high 25 points and senior Eric Jamison, Jr., added 21 points to lead the Runnin’ Bulldogs to an easy 103-70 rout of Bob Jones University at Paul Porter Arena in Boiling Springs, N.C.

The 6-5 Perez, a first-team All Big South selection as a freshman last season, made 10 of 21 shots from the field, including three from beyond the arc, as Gardner-Webb jumped out to an 11-0 lead and never looked back.

Nate Ellenwood, a 6-5 senior guard from Parsippany, N.J., scored 18 points and dished off six assists for the Bruins, who had a four-game winning streak snapped while dropping to 6-6 on the season.  Jayson Barnhart and Kendall Norrington added 12 and 11 points, respectively.

Gardner-Webb is off until after the holidays when it will face Campbell in a Big South contest on January 2nd

Bob Jones University, which competes in the National Christian College Athletic Association (NCCAA), faces South Carolina-Upstate on the road on Saturday.

Trey Murphy III buried five 3-pointers and scored a game-high 21 points while pulling down 10 rebounds as Rice (8-4) broke the century mark for the first time this season in rolling past St. Thomas (Texas) 103-70 at the Tudor Fieldhouse in Houston on Thursday afternoon.

Freshman guard Austin Arnold and 6-6 senior forward Nathan Thormaehlen, both from Katy, Texas, tallied eight points apiece for St. Thomas, which competes in the Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference.

It was only the second loss of the season for the Div. III Celts — both to Division I squads. 

Since the losses to Division I schools are considered exhibition games, St. Thomas officially remains unbeaten at 6-0.

Trejon Jacob scored a career-high 39 points as Florida International (8-3) breezed past Florida Memorial 99-74 in a 5 p.m. contest at the Ocean Bank Convocation Center in Miami.

Jacob, a 6-5 senior from Raleigh, N.C., made a blistering 17 of 20 shots from the floor, including hitting 4 of 6 from beyond the arc, as FIU posted its fifth straight victory.  Junior Eric Lovett, redshirt junior Blake Furcron and 6-1 sophomore Antonio Daye, Jr., each scored double figures for the Panthers, scoring 14, 11 and 10 points, respectively.

Florida Memorial’s Omar Outar scorched the nets for a team-high 30 points on 13 of 19 from the field.  The 5-8 senior guard from North Lauderdale, Florida, also made 4 of 6 shots from long-range for the Lions.

 A private historically African-American university located in Miami Gardens, Florida Memorial competes in the NAIA Sun Conference.

FIU, which leads the nation in blocked shots, plays at Stetson on Sunday while Florida Memorial (3-8) hosts Huntington University (Ind.) on Saturday.

Darcy G. Richardson is a historian and the author of more than a dozen books. His latest is Loyola's Improbable Ramblers: 55 Years in the Making, available now on Amazon.

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