Sunday, January 14, 2018

Late Wofford run sinks Paladins

Devin Sibley had 17 points in Furman's 79-70 loss
at Wofford Saturday. Photo courtesy of Furman.
SPARTANBURG - Big runs have been a part of all of Furman's Southern Conference games this season. That continued Saturday night at Wofford, but for the first time - this one went against the Paladins. The Terriers rallied from a five-point deficit with a 14-0 run late in the second half and went on to a 79-70 win in front of a standing room only crowd at Richardson Indoor Stadium.

That run gave Wofford a 71-62 lead with 3:43 left. Three-pointers by Devin Sibley and Andrew Brown, and a pair of Daniel Fowler free throws cut the lead to 74-70 with 1:50 to play. On Wofford's ensuing possession, sharpshooter Fletcher Magee missed a 3-pointer but Nathan Hoover got the offensive rebound and was fouled. Hoover hit both free throws as the Terriers (12-5, 3-1) made 5-of-6 foul shots over the final 1:23 to seal the win.

"We didn't have the focus early and to be honest, it wasn't much better coming out of halftime. But your sitting there at the eight-minute media (timeout in the second half) and your up five," Furman coach Bob Richey said. "You feel like if we continue to guard and pressure, that we'd have a chance. To Wofford's credit, they got freed up on a wing right there for a three. Then Fletcher hit another that was heavily contested, but that's what he does.
"They went on that quick run, the crowd got into it and we did a poor job closing. In the last stretch of the game, we lost vision and containment. In games of this magnitude, you just have to be more focused in those moments to be able to close these games out."

Trevor Stumpe and Cameron Jackson scored 20 points apiece to lead Wofford to a key SoCon win in front of the second sellout crowd at the Terriers' new home arena. Jackson also had four steals and two blocked shots despite playing just 24 minutes due to foul trouble.

"You've got to win at home and we put a lot into this one. We admire their team, players and how they conduct their business," said Wofford coach Mike Young, who applauded the home crowd as he left the court postgame. "This was a great night for us and a lot of fun."

The Terriers raced out to a 12-3 lead just over four minutes into the game. They took advantage of five turnovers by Furman (13-5, 4-1) during that opening stretch. The Paladins had just five turnovers the rest of the night to get back in it.

Midway through the first half, Jordan Lyons came off the bench to score eight consecutive points for Furman. Geoff Beans and Lyons then connected on back-to-back 3-pointers giving the Paladins their first lead 24-22 with 7:50 left in the first half. Wofford shot 60 percent from the floor in the opening half, including 7-of-13 3-pointers, but only led 41-38 at the break.

That lead stretched to eight before Furman started chipping away. While the Paladins were missing 3-pointers left and right, they found a spark driving to the basket. Sibley hit back-to-back layups to give Furman a one-point lead. After Wofford answered, Brown, Sibley and Matt Rafferty made consecutive layups staking the Paladins to a 62-57 lead with 7:48 left.

Coming out of a media timeout, Hoover drained a 3-pointer to tie the game at 62-62. After Lyons missed a 3-pointer, Magee hit one to put the Terriers on top for good. During the 14-0 run, Furman went 0-for-6 from the field, including 0-for-3 on 3-pointers.

"Nathan Hoover's shot was huge, then he had a huge offensive rebound," Young said. "That (tying 3-pointer) kind of propelled us and got the wind back under our sails."

While Furman entered Saturday's game as the SoCon's best team at defending the 3-pointer (29.6 percent), the Terriers countered with the No. 2-ranked 3-point shooting team in the country (44.8 percent). Wofford won that battle Saturday as it connected on 11-of-24 (45.8 percent).

The Paladins dogged Magee defensively, holding the SoCon's leading scorer to "only" 17 points on 5-of-14 shooting, including 3-of-11 from beyond the arc. But others stepped up. Stumpe hit 4-of-6 3-pointers, while Hoover made 3-of-3 and finished with 13 points. Meanwhile inside, Jackson once again terrorized Furman. Over his last three games against the Paladins, Jackson has totaled 64 points, 25 rebounds and seven steals.

Furman shot 32.1 percent from beyond the arc (9-of-28) and 64.3 percent from the foul line (9-of-14). Sibley led the Paladins with 17 points, while Lyons finished with 14.

"I thought Daniel did a really good job on Magee, but I thought we did a poor job on some of their other guys," Richey said. "As we all know, the 3-ball is a big deal in the college game. The whole momentum can (quickly) shift. It's why they like the 3. It's why we like the 3.
"I congratulate Wofford. That was a heck of a college basketball game tonight in a great environment and great arena and they closed."

Furman faces another stiff test Thursday when the Paladins host the lone team without a SoCon loss in ETSU (14-4, 5-0). Tip-off at Timmons Arena is scheduled for 7 p.m.

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