Greenville, S.C. – Amu Saaka scored a game-high 24 points and Noah States added a career-high 18 as Furman topped Elon 80-65 in the Southern Conference opener for both schools on Wednesday night at Timmons Arena.
The Paladins, who snapped a two-game skid against the Phoenix at home, improved to 4-2 overall and 1-0 in the SoCon in a game that was marred by 50 personal fouls and featured 56 free throw attempts. Elon slipped to 2-4 overall and 0-1 in the league.
Furman used an 11-2 run midway through the first half to erase a 15-7 deficit and grab an 18-17 advantage. After the teams traded the lead five times in the opening 20 minutes, States buried a jumper to give the Paladins the lead for good with 5:25 remaining as Furman pulled away to a 39-32 lead at intermission behind 52% (13-25) shooting from the field and 16 first half points from Saaka.
Elon used a Roger Dugas three-pointer and driving layup by Chris Long to trim the margin to 50-45 with 12:48 left, but Furman reeled off a 9-1 run as Brandon Sebirumbi scored four straight points, Saaka slammed home a pair and Jordan Miller buried a trey with 9:58 left to put Furman up 59-46. The Paladins converted on 14-of-30 field goals and 11-of-17 trips to the charity stripe in the second half while shooting 49.1% (27-55) from the floor and 64.7% (22-34) from the line on the night.
Saaka, who scored his 24 points on 9-of-17 shooting, added eight rebounds and two assists. States, who connected on 8-of-9 field goals, contributed eight boards and five assist to go with his 18 points. Miller scored 13 points to become the 38th player in Furman history and first since Eric Webb in 2007 to eclipse the 1,000-point plateau for his career. Sebirumbi rounded out the double figure scorers with 11 points and Darryl Evans chipped in with seven points and seven assists.
The Paladins managed a commanding 34-18 scoring edge in the paint, tallied 15 points off 12 Elon turnovers and outscored the Phoenix 14-2 on second chance points with the help of 12 offensive rebounds. Furman committed a season-low nine turnovers.
Drew Spradlin poured in 22 points and snagged a team-best six boards for the Phoenix. He made good on 7-of-10 field goal attempts, including 3-for-3 behind the arc. Long joined Spradlin in double digits with 14 points.
The Phoenix shot 42% (21-50) from the field and converted on 16-of-22 free throw attempts.
Elon returns home to host Wofford on Saturday at 7 p.m. Furman opens another three-game road trip when it squares off against SoCon foe UNC Greensboro on Monday evening at the Greensboro Coliseum. Tip-off is set for 7 p.m.