Greenville, S.C. – Amu Saaka scored 21 points and grabbed eight rebounds to lead Furman past the University of Virginia's College at Wise, 82-55, in the Paladins' men's basketball non-conference finale on Monday night at Timmons Arena.
The win, Furman's seventh in its last eight games, improved the Paladins to 10-3 and helped the program cap its non-conference schedule with an 8-3 mark. Furman also upped its record to 5-0 at Timmons Arena this season and reached the 10-win mark at the earliest point in school history. UVa-Wise slipped to 7-7 on the campaign.
Clinging to a 31-27 lead with four minutes left in the first half, Furman reeled off 13 consecutive points and finished the period with a 16-2 run to carry a 47-29 advantage into intermission. Justin Dehm, who scored 13 of his 15 points in the first half, opened the run by scoring on a fast break and finishing the three-point play at the foul line. After Dehm added a pair of free throws on Furman's nest possession, Brandon Sebirumbi netted back-to-back baskets to push the Paladin lead to 40-27. Saaka scored the final seven points of the half to hand Furman an 18-point lead at the break and the Paladins would not let the Cavs get closer than 16 points the rest of the night.
Furman shot 48.4% (31-64) from the field, including 15-of-30 in the second half while stretching its lead to as many as 34 points, to score its 30th consecutive win over a non-NCAA Division I opponent. The Paladins converted on just 5-of-18 three-pointers, but made 15-of-20 free throws and scored 19 second-chance points on 18 offensive rebounds. Furman matched a season high in boards while outrebounding UVa-Wise 44-28.
Saaka connected on 8-of-10 field goals to tally 21 points. He also paced Furman with eight rebounds and three steals. Dehm was 5-of-7 from the floor for 15 points while point guard Darryl Evans tallied 10 points and dished out four assists. Sebirumbi added nine points, seven boards and a career-high four blocked shots.
Josh Jordan posted 16 points and Mark Phillips added 11 to lead the Cavaliers who shot just 35.4% from the field and were forced into 20 turnovers. UVa-Wise made 12-of-13 first half free throws to stay in the game, but converted on just 5-of-10 in the second half and made just 1-of-7 three-point attempts after intermission as Furman pulled away.
The Paladins continue their three-game homestand when they jump back into Southern Conference play hosting College of Charleston on Thursday evening. Tip-off is set for 7 p.m.
Paladin fans can follow all of Thursday's action versus the Cougars with the "Voice of the Paladins" Chuck Hussion and color commentator Ron Smith on the Furman Sports Network at WGOG-FM 96.3 and WOLT-FM 103.3. Furman basketball can also be heard through Stretch Audio at www.furmanpaladins.com.
Tickets for Thursday's game, as well as Saturday's contest against The Citadel, are available at the Timmons Arena Box Office and online at www.FurmanPaladins.com. The All-Inclusive Ticket, "IT", costs $12 for a lower level reserved seat and $8 for an upper level general admission seat. The ticket entitles fans to unlimited trips to the Timmons Arena concession stands for hamburgers, hot dogs, nachos, popcorn and sodas.