Spartanburg, S.C. – Amu Saaka scored a team-high 22 points and Brandon Sebirumbi connected on 5-of-6 free throws down the stretch in overtime to lift Furman to a 73-68 victory over Wofford before a crowd of 2,594 on Monday evening at Benjamin Johnson Arena.
With the overtime victory, Furman improved to 15-5 overall and 7-2 in the Southern Conference while moving into a tie with Wofford (10-10, 7-2) for second place in the SoCon South Division. The Paladins' 15th win of the season snapped a four-game losing streak against Wofford and gave Furman its best record through 20 games since posting a 16-4 start during the 1979-80 campaign.
The Paladins, who shot 2-of-2 from the field and 7-of-8 from the foul line in the extra period, scored the first seven points of overtime to race out to a 69-62 advantage with less than 2:30 to play. Evans opened the scoring with a driving layup and Dehm netted a basket following a Sebirumbi free throw. Sebirumbi stepped back to the line and drained a pair of free throws to cap the run before Jamar Diggs scored with 1:56 left for Wofford.
After a Furman turnover, the Terriers and Paladins traded free throws on the next three possessions putting the Furman lead at 71-68. Another Furman miscue gave Wofford a chance to tie the game with under 40 seconds left, but the Terriers failed on two attempts in the paint and Saaka connected on two shots at the charity stripe with 16 seconds remaining to seal the victory the Paladins who held Wofford to just 1-of-10 shooting in overtime.
"This was a big win for us tonight," said Noah States. "We played great tonight and Brandon hit some big free throws to help seal the win."
Furman, playing without second leading scorer Jordan Miller who missed the game due to illness, shot a season-best 68% in the first half and led by as many as nine points before carrying a 37-33 advantage into the break. The Paladins held a 53-45 lead with under 10 minutes left when Rundles buried back-to-back shots to ignite a 13-0 Wofford rally that gave the Terriers a 58-53 lead with 5:14 remaining in regulation as Dahlman added his third basket of the run.
Saaka answered the spurt scoring six straight points to give Furman a one-point advantage before Wofford reeled off four straight points to go ahead by three. Furman trailed 62-60 with 33 seconds remaining in regulation when Noah Dahlman fouled Noah States and sent the senior to the foul line for a pair of free throws. States converted on both attempts and Cameron Rundles driving layup attempt at the buzzer fell short sending the game to overtime.
Saaka connected on 7-of-10 field goal attempts and all six of his trips to the line to pace three Paladins in double figures with 22 points. States and Sebirumbi each added 15 points. Sebirumbi finished 5-of-6 from the field and from the foul line while States recorded three blocked shots.
Furman shot 54% (27-50) from the field and made 14-of-16 free throws, all after halftime, while committing just 12 turnovers.
Dahlman led Wofford with 24 points on 11-of-17 shooting. Diggs tallied 14 points and Tim Johnson grabbed a game-high eight rebounds. The Terriers shot just 41.8% from the floor while making only 4-of-15 three-point attempts and 8-of-15 free throws.
Furman travels to Cullowhee, N.C., to face Western Carolina on Thursday evening before hosting Appalachian State next Saturday at 4 p.m.
Paladin fans can follow all of the action versus the Catamounts 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.