Saturday, November 27, 2021

Hot-shooting Navy sinks Paladins

Jalen Slawson had 20 points in Furman's 77-66 loss
to Navy Saturday. Photo courtesy of Furman

Coming into its game at Furman Sunday, the Navy men's basketball team was shooting 42.5 percent for the season. After hitting 58.6 percent of its shots in the opening half against the Paladins, there had to be a thought that the Midshipmen couldn't possibly do that again in the second half.

And they didn't, sort of. Instead, they shot 63 percent and lay-upped Furman to death in pulling away for a 77-66 win. Navy (3-2) ended up shooting 60.7 percent for the game. That's the highest shooting percentage by a Furman opponent since Duke made 60.9 percent of its shots in the Blue Devils' 92-63 win on Nov. 20, 2017.

Navy became just the second non-conference visitor to leave with Furman with a victory in Bob Richey's tenure as head coach of the Paladins. The other was Winthrop, which defeated the Paladins 93-74, nine days after that Duke loss in 2017.

"When you go into a game against a very good opponent that's well-coached and well-disciplined and you're not able to match that, then you're going to put yourself in a situation where you be disappointed," Richey said. "Unfortunately, that was the case tonight. We had moments and we kept pushing the door a little bit, but were just chasing the game from the jump.

"We had 21 assists and 10 turnovers ... and gave ourselves a chance. To give up 63 percent from the floor in the second half, you're not going to beat good teams doing that. ... We didn't defend well enough to earn the right to win the game."

Furman led for just a total of 1:34 as the Paladins got off to a slow start for the second consecutive game. Furman didn't reach double digits until a Jalen Slawson layup cut Navy's lead to 19-10 with 11:20 left in the first half. That was one of eight layups and dunks the Paladins made out of 15 attempts. Meanwhile, Navy made 11-of-13 of those and added 11 other made shots in the paint.

The Paladins got the deficit down to seven at the half and cut it to four on Garrett Hien's jumper with 11:19 left. But over the final 11 minutes, the Midshipmen made 12-of-14 field goals. The only two misses were blocked shots by Slawson. Nine of those 12 made shots were eight layups and a dunk.

"(Low post defense) has been an issue, so we've got to spend some time figuring that out," Richey said. "The biggest thing for us is to keep it out of there and man, Navy was persistent on getting it in there tonight."

Furman made just 26-of-59 field goals (44.1 percent) and managed to grab only four offensive rebounds as it lost the rebounding battle for the third consecutive game, 34-25.

Slawson finished with 20 points, seven rebounds, five assists and four blocks to lead the Paladins (3-2). Alex Hunter had 11 points, seven assists and three steals, while Alex Williams came off the bench to scored 10 points also for Furman. Leading scorer Mike Bothwell had seven points on 3-of-12 shooting. Bothwell was 0-for-5 on threes and went 1-of-4 at the foul line.

"We're not going to overreact by a loss to a team that won the Patriot League last year. But we do see that we've got some consistency issues to address," Richey said. "If you want to be a championship-level ball club, you can't have inconsistencies in effort and discipline. There must have been 15 plays tonight that were just a lack of discipline."

Furman will look to right the ship Saturday at USC Upstate. Tip-off is scheduled for 4 p.m.

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