Furman 69, Wofford 65
Furman hosted the Wofford Terriers on Monday at Timmons Arena. The Paladins entered the game looking to build on the momentum gained in solid performances during losses to Davidson and College of Charleston, teams expected to take the top two spots in the SoCon South Division come league tournament time in March.
Furman had lost six straight entering the battle and had lost three straight and seven of the last eight to Mike Young's Terriers. However, Monday night would see Furman face down adversity.
The Paladins have battled injuries and struggled this season with shooting, but everything would come together in the win over Wofford. The Paladins ended their six-game skid and posted their second win this season over a Division I opponent.
It was a senior veteran, who has been the personification of perseverance and facing down adversity in his own career, that would deliver the dagger to the Terriers. Senior guard Bobby Austin, who suffered a broken back early in his career after a car accident and didn't know if he would ever play basketball again, knocked down a critical three-pointer with 17 seconds left to ultimately give Furman the victory.
It had appeared that Furman would coast to its first Southern Conference victory with a 15-point lead at the break (40-25). However, with just under 17 minutes remaining in the contest, Lee Skinner got a steal and a slam for the Terriers to cut Wofford's deficit to 14 points. On the play, the Paladins' leading scorer, senior forward Colin Reddick, suffered a deep gash over his left eye and was forced to leave the game for the remainder of the contest, .
The Terriers took advantage of the big man's absence, fashioning a 15-8 run over the next eight minutes—capped by a triple from Karl Cochran with 8:50 remaining—and cutting Furman's lead to five (52-47). That run by Wofford would help set up a dramatic finish between the two Upstate rivals.
Wofford threatened the Paladin advantage on several occasions in the second half, but could never get over the hump. With Furman leading 61-54 with seven minutes to play, Spencer Collins drained a jumper in the lane and Cochran connected on a triple after a Furman turnover to cut the Paladin lead to two, at 61-59.
Furman would answer with a Charlie Reddick three-pointer to take a 64-59 lead, but Collins knocked down a pair of free throws and had an offensive put-back to cut Furman's lead to a point, at 64-63.
A shot-clock violation by Furman and a turnover by Wofford allowed Furman to get a good offensive look when Reddick drove to the basket, but was fouled. He converted 1-of-2 free throws to make it a 65-63 Paladin lead at the 1:07 mark.
Cochran came off a screen and got an excellent look at the basket for a go-ahead three-pointer on the ensuing possession, but missed, setting up Austin's pivotal three-pointer as the shot-clock expired on Furman's next offensive possession.
Austin received the ball in the open floor from fellow senior Charlie Reddick, sighted in and knocked down the trey from the right wing to account for his only points of the evening. That shot increased the Paladins' lead from two points to five, at 68-63, and they would go on to finish 69-65.
The four-point win marked Furman's first against the Terriers since the match on Jan. 24, 2011 at Wofford's Benjamin Johnson Arena.
Freshman forward Kendrec Ferrara led Furman in scoring with a career-high 17 points on 6-for-8 shooting from the field, while classmate Larry Wideman added 11 points. Senior forward Bryant Irwin came up big off the bench for the Paladins, contributing 10 points as the other Paladin scorer in double digits.
Furman connected on a season-best 58.1 percent of its shots from the field and went 10-for-18 from three-point range for 55.6 percent. Furman hit its first four three-pointers of the game.
Wofford's Collins led all scorers with 18 points, while Cochran charted his 10th game in double figures this season with 17 points but was just 7-for-22 from the field and 3-for-13 from three-point range. Skinner rounded out the Terriers in double figures with 13 points and a team-leading eight boards.
The Terriers connected on 43.3 percent of shots from the field, but connected on just 5-of-22 from three-point land.
Furman's strong shooting performance was needed to overcome a sloppy performance taking care of the basketball, with 19 turnovers. Freshman point guard Stephen Croone had another solid performance running the Furman offense, with nine points and six assists. Colin and Charlie Reddick finished with eight points apiece, and Charlie Reddick posted a game-high nine rebounds.
The win improves Furman to 4-11 overall and 1-3 in SoCon play, while Wofford falls to 7-10 overall and 1-3 in the SoCon.
Wofford returns to the hardwood on Wednesday night with a trip to Greensboro to face the UNCG Spartans, while Furman begins a three-game road trip Thursday night at Alumni Gym against the Elon Phoenix.