Greenville, S.C. (Furman SID) — The third-seeded Furman Paladins warded off a UNCG Spartans second half rally to cruise to an 80-64 win in the nightcap of the Southern Conference Men’s Basketball Championship quarterfinals on Saturday night at the U.S. Cellular Center.
Stephen Croone and Devin Sibley shared game-high honors with 20 points apiece in the win as the Paladins moved to 18-14 on the season. The loss dropped UNCG to 14-18. With the victory, Furman advanced to face No. 2 seed ETSU in the semifinal round on Sunday at 7:30 p.m. The winner will play either Western Carolina or Chattanooga for the SoCon title on ESPN2 at 9 p.m. on Monday.
Croone, who connected on 7-of-11 field goal attempts, moved past former Paladin Jerry smith and into fifth on Furman’s career scoring list with 1,890 points. Devin Sibley added five assists to his stat-line, while Geoff Beans tallied 14 points for the Paladins and finished the game 4-for-6 from three.
Furman built a 17-point advantage, 53-36, on Daniel Fowler’s three-ball with 13:46 to play. It was still 14 points, 59-45, when UNCG made a charge.
Asad Lamat’s triple with 7:36 to play cut the deficit to just six, 61-55, but Furman weathered the storm. With a 63-57 lead, the Paladins went on a 17-4 run to take their largest lead of the night at 78-59.
Kayel Locke led the Spartans with 16 points and seven rebounds. R.J. White added 10 points, six boards and two blocks.
Furman built a double digit first half advantage before settling for a 36-29 lead at intermission. The Paladins shot 50% on the night, including 10-of-24 behind the arc.