Boiling Springs, N.C. (Furman SID) — Junior Daniel Fowler drained a three-pointer with 31 seconds left and sophomore Matt Rafferty converted on a pair of free throws with 7.4 seconds remaining to help Furman hold off Gardner-Webb, 68-65, on Saturday afternoon at Paul Porter Arena in Boiling Springs, N.C.
The victory marked Furman’s third straight triumph and improved the Paladins to 6-4 on the season, while Gardner-Webb slipped to 5-5.
With Furman down 59-57, senior Kris Acox scored at the rim to tie the game and followed three consecutive defensive stops by the Paladins with another basket in the paint to put Furman in front 61-59 with 1:34 to play. Devin Sibley extended the margin to 63-59 with two free throws before Gardner-Webb’s Liam O’Reilly answered with a triple with 59 seconds left to cut the lead to 63-62.
On Furman’s next possession, Fowler buried a three-pointer from the left wing on an assist from John Davis III to restore the four-point lead. Gardner-Webb’s LaQuincy Rideau pulled the Runnin’ Bulldogs within three points by making 1-of-2 free throws on his team’s next possession and Fowler missed two on the other end to give GWU the ball with 19 seconds left.
Following a timeout, Rideau drove to the basket and scored to trim the Paladin lead to 66-65 with eight seconds left. Rafferty, after being fouled on the inbounds pass, stepped to the charity stripe and hit both free throws. Gardner-Webb raced the ball down the floor and Rideau got a look at a trey from the left wing as time expired, but his shot bounced off the left side of the iron.
Sibley connected on 5-of-9 field goal attempts and hit 8-of-11 free throws to lead all scorers with 20 points. Acox finished 8-of-12 from the field to add 18 points and seven rebounds. Fowler and freshman Jordan Lyons contributed nine points apiece.
Furman shot 50% in the first half and built a 15-point lead before carrying a 39-26 lead into halftime. The Runnin’ Bulldogs held the Paladins with a basket for over 7:30 and went on a 20-1 run early in the second half to go in front 47-46 on Tyrell Nelson’s layup with 10:47 to play. The lead changed hands five times down the stretch prior to Acox’s basket with 1:34 remaining.
The Paladins shot just 40.4% and were out-rebounded 45-30, but forced Gardner-Webb into 17 turnovers while making just seven miscues. Furman managed a 20-10 edge on points off of turnovers and 13-4 advantage on second chance points.
Nelson paced Gardner-Webb with 19 points and seven rebounds, while O’Reilly and Rideau scored 17 and 12 points, respectively.
The Paladins return home to Timmons Arena to host the South Carolina State Bulldogs on Friday, December 16, before capping their pre-holiday schedule with trips to Tennessee Tech on December 19 and Michigan on December 22.