Spartanburg, S.C. — Junior John Davis III tallied 16 points, five rebounds and a career-high eight assists to power Furman to a 79-57 victory over USC Upstate in the opening round of the CollegeInsider.com Postseason Tournament on Thursday night at the G.B. Hodge Center in Spartanburg, S.C.
The win improved the Paladins to 22-11 on the season and gave Furman postseason victories in consecutive seasons for the first time in school history. The Paladins, by virtue of having one of the top three RPIs among the teams remaining in the 26-team CIT field, will receive a second round bye and will await a quarterfinal round opponent next week.
Junior Devin Sibley, who tallied 13 points to go with six rebounds, buried back-to-back triples to open the game as Furman grabbed an 8-0 lead en route to leading wire-to-wire. Geoff Beans added 10 of his 13 points in the first half to help the Paladins to a 37-30 lead at intermission.
Davis III drained consecutive treys and scored eight points to propel Furman to an 11-3 run to start the second half as the Paladins built a 48-33 lead on the point guard’s layup with 15:27 to play. Furman continued to add to its lead by connecting on 6-of-13 second half three-pointers to build the lead to as many as 24 points.
The Paladins shot 45.5% for the game, made 11-of-31 three-point attempts and converted on 8-of-11 trips to the foul line. Furman managed a 43-32 edge on the glass on the strength of senior Kris Acox’s 12 rebounds. The Reykjavik, Iceland, native added 13 points to record his ninth double-double of the campaign and also dished out three assists.
Furman, who knocked off Louisiana-Monroe in the opening round of last season’s CIT before falling to Louisiana-Lafayette, outscored the Spartans 32-22 in the paint and registered 11 second chance points by grabbing 12 offensive rebounds.
Josh Cuthbertson paced USC Upstate (17-16) with 20 points on 8-of-15 shooting, but was the only Spartan to reach double figures. Upstate forced 15 turnovers to fashion a 20-9 edge in points off turnovers.
The Spartans shot just 37.3% from the floor and hit only four of their 24 three-point tries.