Orangeburg, S.C. – Furman held South Carolina State to just 22 points on 26.7% shooting in the second half as the Paladins erased an eight-point deficit to defeat the Bulldogs 59-55 in non-conference men's basketball action on Tuesday evening at the Smith-Hammond-Middleton Memorial Center.
The win, Furman's first road victory of the season, improved the Paladins to 3-1 and gave them their fourth victory over the Bulldogs in their last five meetings. South Carolina State fell to 2-2 on the season.
Trailing 33-25 at intermission, Furman's zone defense limited the Bulldogs to just seven field goals on 26 attempts over the final 20 minutes, including 0-for-8 from three-point range, and the Paladins began the second half on a 24-8 run to take control of the game. Amu Saaka, who tallied a game-high 23 points to go with nine rebounds, scored 14 of the 24 points to key the decisive run that ended at the 5:48 mark with the senior draining a pair of free throws to give Furman a 49-41 lead.
South Carolina State rallied to trim the margin to 51-48 with under three minutes to play, but Darryl Evans buried a trey from the left wing in front of the Paladins' bench with 2:26 remaining to help Furman hold off the late Bulldog charge.
Furman shot just 40.5% (17-42) from the field and 62.5% (15-24) from the foul line, but drained 10-of-24 three-point attempts and tallied 14 second chance points off of 17 Bulldog turnovers. Saaka connected on 6-of-11 shots, including 5-of-8 beyond the arc, and made 6-of-8 free throws to lead the Paladins in scoring for the fourth consecutive game. Senior Justin Dehm buried three treys to tally a season-best 11 points while adding three assists. Evans added eight points, four boards and four assists.
Carrio Bennett, a Greenville, S.C., native, led three Bulldogs in double figures with 14 points. Brandon Riley netted 12 points and Joe Ikhinmwin added 11. South Carolina State shot just 40.4% (19-47) from the floor despite converting on 12-of-21 field goals in the first half. SCSU managed a 32-31 edge on the boards.
Furman caps its road swing on Sunday when it faces Big Ten member Penn State in a 3:30 p.m. contest at the Bryce Jordan Center in University Park, Pa. The game will be televised live on the Big Ten Network.