Tuesday, November 12, 2019

Paladins post largest road win in 67 years

Clay Mounce scored all of his game-high 19 points in the first half as Furman
crushed Charleston Southern, 91-47, Tuesday. Photo courtesy of Furman
NORTH CHARLESTON -  The first opponent Furman ever faced as a ranked team last year was Charleston Southern. On that night in Greenville, the 23rd-ranked Paladins committed 18 turnovers and allowed the Buccaneers to hit 45.5 percent, but survived for an eight-point win.

Coming off two impressive wins last week and playing in a tiny arena Furman has never won in, you maybe had to wonder if a similar kind of performance would happen in the rematch Tuesday night.

Uhh, no.

Clay Mounce made more field field goals than Charleston Southern did in the first half and the Paladins rolled to a 91-47 win at the "Buc Dome." Furman (3-0) is now 1-4 all-time at the second-smallest arena (881 capacity) in Division I. It's the largest margin of win by the Paladins on the road since a 114-67 win at the College of Charleston on Jan. 17, 1953.

"I didn't expect this tonight, in terms of the margin. Our group is just really connected right now," said Furman coach Bob Richey, who was an assistant at CSU the last time the Paladins visited in 2009. "We were three points away from having seven double figure scorers. That's just been the power of our group, making sure on both ends of the floor that we stay connected.
"Our guys are just focused. We obviously took Saturday off (after a blowout win over Loyola Chicago Friday) and the way they practiced Sunday was incredible."

The Paladins opened the game on an 8-0 run and that was not its largest of the half. They went on a 14-0 spurt to push the lead to 26-6 and a 9-0 run made it 47-12 before Furman took a 48-14 lead into halftime. Mounce hit 7-of-9 shots in the first half, including 4-of-6 3-pointers, to account for all of his game-high 19 points.

Meanwhile, the Paladins held Charleston Southern (1-2) to 18.2 percent on 6-of-33 shooting from the floor. The Bucs, who entered Tuesday 7-for-38 on 3-pointers this season, went 0-for-15 from beyond the arc in the first half.

"We just came out hot and ready to play tonight. ... We just came out with more emotion and energy than we did last year against them," Mounce said. "My teammates were doing a great job getting me good looks. When we just keep the ball moving and everyone's cutting, we're hard to guard. I just had the good side of that tonight, but it could be anyone.
"It was huge for us to come out 8-0. Coach Richey told us this place will get loud. Luckily, we never really let them get going and let the crowd get into it."

While Mounce, who also had half of Furman's six steals, was the lone double figure scorer in the first half, plenty of teammates joined him in that department later. Mike Bothwell had 12 points and a team-high four assists off the bench, Noah Gurley had 11 points and 11 rebounds, while Jordan Lyons and Jalen Slawson also scored 11 apiece.

Slawson put on a highlight reel playing back near his hometown of Summerville. The sophomore had a steal and a windmill dunk midway through the first half that gave Furman a 30-8 lead. Later in the half, Slawson was at the top of the key when he made a perfect bounce pass to Mounce streaking down the baseline for a dunk. He had another steal and fancy slam in the second half.

Just missing double figures was Alex Hunter, who scored nine, and Tre Clark, who had eight on 4-of-4 shooting. Clark also had five rebounds, two assists and a blocked shot in 18 minutes off the bench.

Furman shot 54.5 percent from the floor in the first half and 53.1 percent in the second half. The Bucs improved after halftime but shot 32.8 percent for the game. CSU missed a total of 41 shots, which helped the Paladins win the rebounding battle 44-28. Richey said counting Furman's two exhibitions, it's the first time the Paladins have outrebounded an opponent this season.

The Paladins forced 15 turnovers and seemingly made the Bucs pay for all of them, as they enjoyed a 31-6 advantage in points off turnovers.

"Defensively, we were able to really put the game plan to work. ... Offensively, I thought our ball movement was pretty good," Richey said. "It was really a thing of beauty tonight."

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