FERRUM – Dante Burden and Kaymon Mitchell combined for 40 points Wednesday to lead Methodist (North Carolina) University to a 70-64 non-conference men’s basketball victory over Ferrum College in the Panthers’ 2019-2020 season and home opener at William P. Swartz Gymnasium.

Burden netted a game-best 21 points and distributed six assists and Mitchell tallied 19 as the Monarchs (2-0) claimed their second victory of the season over an opponent from the Old Dominion Athletic Conference (ODAC).

Burden, who was 7 of 8 from the field, and Mitchell, who was 7 of 11, accounted for 14 of Methodisdt’s 27 field goals.

The Monarchs, the preseason favorite to capture the East Division championship in the USA South Athletic Conference, made 50.9 percent (27 of 53) of their attempts from the field on a 50 percent or better shooting display in each half. The Monarchs scored 35 points in each half.

Methodist is the first of four former USA South foes Ferrum faces in non-conference play this season – the others are William Peace (North Carolina) University, Greensboro (North Carolina) College and Brevard (North Carolina) College.

The Panthers, who were seeking to win their second season opener in three years, suffered their fifth straight loss dating to last year.

Ferrum (0-1), which trailed by 14 points at one point during the contest, was within two points,56-54 with 7:33 remaining, three points, 65-62, at the 2:24 mark and one point, 65-64, with 2:12 showing.

But the Panthers could never gain the lead as Methodidst secured the win with a 5-0 game-deciding surge.

Methodist scored the first points of the surge with 1:33 left and was ahead by three points, 67-64, with 1:02 to play.

The Monarchs made 10 of 14 (71.4 percent) of its tries from the free-throw line in the second half and that proficiency aided in their victory.

Sixteen of Methodist’s 27 field goals were produced by an assist.

The Panthers were 26 of 66 (39.4 percent) from the field, but could only convert 3 of 26 (11.5 percent) tries from the 3-point arc — they were 0 of 8 from long distance after halftime.

Rashad Reed, a senior, paced Ferrum with 15 points on a 7 of 14 shooting display with half of his misses coming from 3-point territory.

Marcus Plair, who was 4 of 5 from the field, finished with 11 points and a game-best nine rebounds.

“We did not play anywhere close to our potential in any aspect. When we defend the way we did, then execute and shoot like we did offensively, it makes it really difficult to win,’’ third-year Ferrum bench boss Tyler Sanborn said.

Eight other Methodist players combined for 30 points, none of whom were in double figures.

The Panthers’ support scoring was balanced as Kalip Jones and James Smith Jr. each scored eight points, while Kajuan Madden-McAfee, Brandon Reeves and Michael Spraggins each tallied six.

Jones, Smith, Madden-McAfee, Reeves and Spraggins were making their Ferrum debuts.

Ferrum out-rebounded. Methodist, 40-31, and was able to create extra possessions by dominating the offensive backboards,18-7.

“I was proud of our effort on the glass, I thought that was a bright spot for our guys, along with low turnovers,’’ Sanborn said.

Methodist doubled Ferrum’s assist total (16-8), committed two fewer turnovers (9-7) and blocked three shots.

The Monarchs employed 13 players, three of whom saw more than 30 minutes of action. The Panthers also used 13 players, but Reed, the team’s top returning scorer from last year, was the only one to log more than 30 minutes.

The Panthers finished the game with advantages in points in the paint (40-24).

Methodist scored 13 points off Ferrum turnovers, while the Panthers tallied six points off Monarchs miscues.

Ferrum returns to action Saturday against William Peace. The non-league matinee tips off at 2 p.m. at Swartz Gym.

“There is a lot of work to be done before we can reach what I think we can be. I’m excited about this group. Our best basketball is ahead of us,’’ Sanborn said.

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