Wednesday, December 11, 2019

Bothwell nets career high in Paladins' rout

Mike Bothwell scored a career-high 25 points in Furman's 90-65
win over North Greenville Wednesday. Photo courtesy of Furman
Mike Bothwell scored 17 of his career-high 25 points in the first half Wednesday as Furman built a 32-point lead and went on to a 90-65 win over North Greenville. Bothwell's career-high scoring game came three nights after fellow sophomore Noah Gurley put up a career-high 29 points against USC Upstate.

While the Paladins (9-3) won by 12 Sunday, it was an unusual game as USC Upstate shot 56 percent from the field. On Wednesday, it was a more Furman-like defensive effort. The Division II Crusaders shot 39.1 percent, including a 7-of-27 showing (25.9 percent) in the first half as the Paladins built a 52-20 lead at the half.

"We got up 32 and that's what I wanted. I wanted a fast start ... to see if we could get a lot of bodies in and play with some different lineups," Furman coach Bob Richey said. "Bothwell obviously had a really good game. ... A lot of guys played really well."

Furman led 14-10 with less than 11 minutes to go in the first half when the Paladins began to turn it on. Alex Hunter hit back-to-back 3-pointers to start a 20-4 run over a stretch of 5:29. Switching to a 1-3-1 zone sparked the defensive side of that spurt.

After North Greenville's Jacob Redding hit a 3-pointer with 4:47 left in the half, the Crusaders didn't make another field goal until the second half. Bothwell had Furman's next 12 points on a three-point play and three 3-pointers as part of an 18-3 run to end the half.

"We met our pass goal today and got a lot of open looks. ... I kinda got going, started feeling good and got in a rhythm," Bothwell said. "My teammates saw that and they just kept finding me. That's what I love about this team. ... This is a great brotherhood we have. We one of us is going off, we all feel like we are."

Furman hit 10-of-17 3-pointers (58.8 percent) in the first half and shot 52.8 percent from the floor overall. Eight different Paladins had at least one assist in the first half, combining for 13 with just three turnovers before the break.

Things weren't as crisp in the second half as North Greenville (4-5) outscored Furman 45-38.

Wednesday's game was Furman's sixth in the past 16 days, so perhaps the most important bonus of the lopsided score was that no starter played more than 24 minutes. Overall, no Paladin played more than 25 as Bothwell averaged one point per minute off the bench.

Freshman Ben Beeker likely would've returned to action after missing the previous two games because of a family issue, but he was injured in practice Tuesday and was in a walking boot Wednesday.

Furman also had a scary moment in the second half when Hunter soared to the basket on a layup, but made contact with the base of the basket support as he landed. After a few minutes on the ground, Hunter limped off to the locker room. He was back on the bench for the end of the game and was able to walk through the postgame handshake line.

"Alex is fine from what I've been told at this point. He could've returned to the game, but I just decided to not return him," Richey said. "Ben rolled an ankle yesterday at practice. X-rays were negative and he will be out a couple of weeks.
"Load management was a big thing tonight. ... With games Sunday, Wednesday and Saturday this week, we wanted to do our job tonight and not max people's minutes out especially with finals (exams) going on. You've got to understand context around here. It was three or four years ago when we won every game at home except for the Saturday during finals against Gardner-Webb."

Bothwell was one of four Paladins in double figures. Jordan Lyons had 14 points, while Gurley and Hunter each scored 11. Jalen Slawson had a career-high 10 rebounds and a pretty remarkable block from behind on a breakaway layup for North Greenville midway through the second half. In a 30-point game, Bothwell dove out of bounds to flip the ball back into play and Clay Mounce corralled it.

The loudest ovation of the night came with just 20 seconds left when Rett Lister drove to the basket for a layup to cap Furman's scoring for the night. The freshman walk-on from Easley is the son of North Greenville coach Chad Lister, who's a Furman alum.

"That whole thing was neat. I played for Chad and now Rett's playing for us. I played at North Greenville and Chad went to school here. There was a lot of commonalities out there tonight," Richey said. "That wasn't by the book to let him go (for a shot) with the shot clock off, but I thought Chad would be alright with that - as long as it was Rett.
"Those guys (walk-ons) don't get a lot of credit and their job is hard. ... There's no glory in it. ... Rett and Rob (Robert Swanson) both played four minutes tonight and both scored. As a coach, that's pretty rewarding."

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