Johnson City, Tenn. (Furman SID) — ETSU forced 21 Furman turnovers, including 16 in the first half, to build a 22-point lead and held off a furious second half rally to down the Paladins, 80-75, in Southern Conference men’s basketball action on Thursday evening at Freedom Hall in Johnson City, Tenn.
With the victory and Wofford’s loss at Western Carolina, ETSU (20-10, 13-5 SoCon) clinched no worse than a No. 2 seed in next week’s SoCon Men’s Basketball Championship. Furman (17-13, 11-6 SoCon) will claim the No. 3 seed with a win on Saturday at Western Carolina or a Wofford loss on Saturday at ETSU. If Furman falls at WCU and the Terriers top the Bucs, the Paladins would have to settle for the No. 4 seed.
With the Bucs leading 64-60 with under seven minutes to play, ETSU held Furman scoreless for a stretch of 3:36 and used a 10-0 spurt to build a 74-60 cushion on Peter Jurkin’s three-point play with 3:36 remaining. Devin Sibley drained a triple to ignite an 11-0 Furman run and the Paladins pulled within 74-71 on Sibley’s layup with 1:39 left.
The Bucs, however, made six of their final eight free throw attempts and the Paladins missed from three-point range on their next two possessions as ETSU escaped with the five-point win.
Ge’Lawn Guyn paced ETSU with 23 points, while T.J. Cromer added 13. Lester Wilson and Deuce Bello scored 12 points apiece and Isaac Banks rounded out the Bucs’ five double figure scorers with 10 points.
ETSU shot 48%, including 9-of-20 from three-point range, and made good on 19-of-26 trips to the foul line. The Bucs totaled 31 points off of Furman’s 21 turnovers.
Stephen Croone led the Paladins with 19 points to go with six rebounds. Kris Acox poured in 16 points and Sibley added 15 on 4-of-9 shooting from the field.
Furman shot 48% and made 20-of-26 free throws, but the Paladins connected on just 5-of-22 three-point attempts. Daniel Fowler and Matt Rafferty grabbed seven rebounds apiece to help the Paladins to a 36-28 rebounding edge.
ETSU reeled off a 22-5 first half run to take a 27-10 lead as Furman committed 11 turnovers in the game’s opening nine minutes. The Bucs, who drained 7-of-14 first half three-point attempts and shot 56.7% from the floor in the period, extended the margin to 22 points at 46-24 before taking a 48-29 lead into the half.
Sibley scored the first five points of the second half to key a 20-5 run that shrunk ETSU’s lead to 53-49 on Croone’s layup with 11:33 to play. Furman cut the Bucs’ lead to two points on John Davis III’s basket with 9:36 left and again on Acox’s layup with 8:38 to play, but the Paladins could get no closer.
Furman concludes the regular season on Saturday at 2 p.m. when it faces the Western Carolina Catamounts at the Ramsey Center in Cullowhee, N.C.
Saturday’s game will be streamed live on the SoCon Digital Network 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 be posted at FurmanPaladins.com.