Saturday, January 11, 2020

Furman women hit milestones, threes in win

Le'Jzae Davidson had 18 points and moved to fifth on Furman's all-time
scoring list in a 77-69 win over Samford. Photo courtesy of Furman
The Furman women's basketball team made its only scheduled trip to the Bon Secours Wellness Arena this season Saturday. Based on how the Paladins shot, they may want to lobby for more trips downtown. Furman hit 7-of-15 3-pointers and piled up its third-highest point total this season in a 77-69 win over Samford.

Over the Paladins' previous three games entering Saturday, they were just 12-of-52 (23.1 percent) from beyond the arc. Coach Jackie Carson said Furman would have to shoot better from the start against a Samford team that was coming off a 26-point win at Wofford Thursday. That's precisely what happened, actually both times Furman came out of the locker room.

The Paladins hit 4-of-7 from three in a 23-point first quarter, and 3-of-5 3-pointers in a 24-point third quarter to take command. Furman converted 11-of-16 free throws in the fourth quarter to seal the win. The Paladins tied their season high for assists against Division I competition with 20 on its 25 made field goals.

"It was a pretty cool environment and I think they feed off that. The start was everything I thought," Carson said. "We're all about team basketball. If you separate us, we're not very strong. We're not 1-on-1 players, but we're outstanding team basketball players."

It was the Furman women's first game at the building formerly known as the Bi-Lo Center since the 2001 Southern Conference Tournament championship game. On this unique occasion, the Paladins (11-5, 2-0 SoCon) celebrated more than just the win.

Le'Jzae Davidson scored a game-high 18 points and moved past former teammate Whitney Bunn into fifth place on Furman's all-time scoring ledger. The senior has 1,549 points in her career.

Senior Taylor Petty scored 15 points to surpass the 1,000-point mark in her career. The former Dorman High standout is the Paladins top perimeter shooter and has shot more threes than twos this season. But on Saturday, Petty did most of her damage by driving to the basket. She was 4-of-7 from the floor, 1-of-2 on 3-pointers and was 6-of-7 from the foul line.

"They were really trying to close out on our shooters at times and she took advantage of just going to the hole," Carson said. "That's something we've been working on because a lot of people are just closing down on our shooters and collapsing on our bigs. So the driving lanes are going to be open every time."

Tierra Hodges posted her fifth consecutive double-double and ninth this season with 16 points and 13 rebounds. Point guard Milica Manojlovic nearly had a triple-double as she finished with 12 points, a career-high nine assists and eight rebounds. Celena Taborn played just 23 minutes before fouling out, but had eight points and matched her career-high of five blocked shots.

"I call her Milica Carson because she's really like a coaches' child and I get on her the hardest," Carson said. "I have the highest expectations because her basketball IQ is through the roof. ... She really controlled our offense and did a great job today."

Sarah Myers had 16 points, eight rebounds and five assists for Samford (6-11, 1-1).

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