Greenville, S.C. (Furman SID) — Senior Stephen Croone scored a game-high 22 points and junior Kris Acox added 15 points, six boards and four steals to propel Furman to an 85-57 victory over VMI in the Southern Conference men’s basketball opener for both schools on Saturday afternoon at Timmons Arena.
Furman (7-7, 1-0 SoCon) shot 51.7% in the first half and used a 13-0 run midway through the period to take control as the Paladins pushed a 12-9 lead to a 25-9 advantage on Daniel Fowler’s three-point play with 10:21 left in the half. The Paladins connected on 5-of-11 triples and 7-of-8 foul shots en route to a 42-27 first half lead.
Acox, who made six of his seven field goal attempts for the game, opened the second half with a pair of free throws and Croone followed with a three-pointer as the Paladins reeled off 11 straight points to begin the period and stretch the lead to 53-27 on John Davis III’s free throws with 17:20 to play. Croone answered a VMI free throw with a three-point play and Devin Sibley added a free throw of his own on the next possession to extend the Paladin lead to 57-28 with 15:40 left.
VMI (5-7, 0-1), just 3-for-20 beyond the arc in the SoCon opener, didn’t convert its first field goal of the half until Julian Eleby scored in the lane at the 14:48 mark. Furman’s defense held the Keydets to 38.8% shooting and registered 11 steals while forcing 19 VMI turnovers.
The Paladins, who led by as many as 31 points, committed just 10 turnovers and managed a 35-31 rebounding edge. Furman outscored the Keydets 36-26 in the paint and 28-8 on points off turnovers.
Croone hit 6-of-11 shots from the floor and all nine of his free throw attempts to score his season-high 22 points. Davis III and Fowler scored eight points apiece, while freshman Matt Rafferty added seven points, six boards and three assists.
The Paladins shot 48.2% from the field and buried 9-of-24 three-point attempts to snap their three-game skid and win their SoCon opener for the second straight season.
Eleby paced the Keydets with 18 points, while Adrian Rich scored 10 points off of the bench for VMI.
Furman travels to Greensboro, N.C., to battle UNCG on Tuesday at 7 p.m. at the Greensboro Coliseum. The first conference road test for the Paladins will be streamed live on ESPN3 and the WatchESPN app and can be heard on the Furman IMG Radio Network at WGOG 101.7FM and FoxSports 1440AM, as well as, on your mobile device through the TuneIn Radio app. Links for the video stream, radio broadcast and live statistics are posted at FurmanPaladins.com.