Thursday, December 14, 2017

Paladins tally most points in 13 years in victory

Jordan Lyons scored a career-high 19 points in Furman's 103-47
win over Montreat Thursday. Photo courtesy of Furman.
Jordan Lyons led six Furman players in double figures with 19 points as the Paladins cruised past Montreat, 103-47, Thursday night at Timmons Arena. It's the highest point total in a game for Furman since a 126-33 win over Virginia Intermont on Dec. 29, 2004.

Thursday marked the final home game of 2017 for Furman and wrapped up a five-game homestand. It was the the fourth consecutive win for the Paladins (8-3), who held the Cavaliers to 26.5 percent shooting from the floor. Furman opened the game with a 22-4 run and shot 39-of-78 (50 percent). That's the most field goal attempts by the Paladins in a game in more than 15 years.

"It was a lot about the start tonight. I thought our starters did a good job of making sure they brought intensity from the jump (ball)," Furman coach Bob Richey said. "Now, it's what can we take from these wins that we can continue to improve on. Now that exams are over and we've got a little practice time, there's some things I think we can focus in on before we get to conference play."

Furman forced 20 turnovers, had 10 steals and a season-high 27 assists, which is the most assists since 29 in that Virginia Intermont game. Over the last three games, the Paladins have forced 63 turnovers and tallied 71 assists. It's the fourth straight game with double-digit steals for Furman, which has totaled 46 in those games.

It was the lowest point total of the season for Montreat (12-2), an NAIA school just outside of Asheville. The Cavaliers, who are ranked No. 17 in the latest NAIA Division II Coaches Poll, entered Thursday with a 12-1 record and an average of 92.2 points per game.

"We know we're at our best when we're guarding and that's something we didn't do at all against Winthrop (Furman's last loss)," said Furman senior Geoff Beans, who drew three charges Thursday. "So each game - no matter who we're playing - we're holding our own standard and we know it all starts with defense for us."

Lyons had 13 points in the first half as Furman led 49-23 at the break. The Paladins went through a mini-slump offensively scoring just eight points over the final 7:07 of the first half, but only allowed seven during that same time frame. Furman outscored Montreat 32-8 over the first 11 minutes of the second half to push its lead to 50.

Lyons hit 5-of-10 3-pointers to finish with a career-high 19 points in 16 minutes. Daniel Fowler had 14 points, six rebounds, six assists and two steals in 20 minutes. Matt Rafferty, John Davis and Clay Mounce each had 13 points, while Devin Sibley scored 12. Rafferty and Jalen Williams each had 11 of Furman's 53 rebounds. Rafferty also had a game-high three steals, while Williams had nine points and two blocked shots.

"When the game comes to Jordan simply and naturally, I think he's unstoppable. He can make threes at will and he's a great playmaker," Fowler said. "I'm very proud of this team (coming back since the Winthrop loss). ... It's not easy to win at this level, so we're cherishing every moment that we're out there and using every game as an experience to get better."

Furman wraps up the non-conference portion of its scheduled with games at UNC-Wilmington Sunday at 2 p.m. and at Tennessee Wednesday at 9 p.m. After Christmas, the Paladins open Southern Conference play at VMI on Dec. 30.

"We've got good players in those (reserve) positions," Richey said. "We're just looking forward in the next couple of weeks to just try to get consistency so that we can go into league play with kind of a mapped-out rotation."