|John Davis had 19 points and seven rebounds in Furman's 71-61
loss at UNCG Wednesday night. Photo courtesy of Furman.
How cold were the Paladins (14-7, 5-3) down the stretch? The Spartans (15-5, 6-1) recorded the double-digit win without making a field goal over the final 7:22 of game time. UNCG hit 14-of-19 free throws during that stretch. Meanwhile, Furman was 5-of-11 from the foul line in the second half.
"To go 1-for-7 on free throws down the stretch, you're going to have a tough time. With some of those misses being front ends ... they're called free shots for a reason," Furman coach Bob Richey said. "It's hard to go up there and miss that many free throws and stay in the game.
"We had some just uncharacteristic, ridiculous turnovers dribbling into tough spaces and just trying to do too much. That's not who we are. We've got to play together."
Despite not playing all that well in the opening half, Furman took a 34-32 lead at the break after a buzzer-beating putback by Daniel Fowler. When Fowler hit a 3-pointer with 9:54 left, the Paladins had matched their biggest lead of the night at 54-50.
By the time Furman hit its next field goal - a jumper by John Davis - there was only 1:27 left to play and Davis' shot cut UNCG's lead to 67-57. In the 8:27 between field goals, the Paladins went 0-for-8 from the floor, 1-for-6 from the foul line and were outscored 17-1.
Coming off a 16-assist, five-turnover performance as a team in Saturday's win over Samford, Furman had six assists and 14 turnovers Wednesday. It was the first time all season that the Paladins didn't reach double figures in assists. Furman also had only six steals, it's lowest total since five at UNC-Wilmington on Dec. 17.
"We didn't play as connected as we needed to be. That's what they (UNCG) do. They're in the top five percentile in the country on defense. ... They can really make you just play 1-on-1 ball and we got caught in that," Richey said. "We got some finishes at the rim, but we didn't get fouled enough like we needed to do to get their pressure to condense.
"It was a bad night, but we'll regroup, get home and figure out what we need to do to get better. We will try to get these guys back to playing connected because that's when they're at their best."
Davis had a game-high 19 points, seven rebounds and two steals to lead the Paladins, while Matt Rafferty scored 14. Playing with the last two fingers on his right hand taped together, Devin Sibley returned to the lineup after missing Saturday's game with a dislocated little finger. Furman's leading scorer had six points on 3-of-11 shooting before fouling out.
The Paladins opened the game 2-of-10 on 3-pointers and went 6-for-23 (26.1 percent) from beyond the arc for the game. Furman hasn't hit more than 32.1 percent of its 3-pointers since The Citadel game on Jan. 4. The Paladins finished 9-of-15 (60 percent) from the foul line.
"This time of year is tough. As a player, you've got a lot coming at you - scouting reports, practice, class. You've got to find time to get in the gym. Shooters find time to shoot. ... You've got to make free throws and when you get an open 3-pointer, you've got to be ready to knock it down," Richey said. "As much as we get in all the schematics as fans and even as coaches, this game is still about can you make shots and keep people from making shots."
Francis Alonso led four Spartans in double figures with 17 points and he also had four assists. UNCG was 21-of-28 from the foul line and hit 40 percent (6-of-15) of its 3-pointers.
Furman returns home Saturday to host Western Carolina at 4 p.m.