Chattanooga, Tenn. – Andrew Goudelock poured in 31 points, including 18 in the second half, to rally College of Charleston past Furman, 63-58, in the semifinals of the Southern Conference Men's Basketball Championships on Sunday evening at the McKenzie Arena.
The Cougars, who improved to 24-9 on the season, advanced to their third tournament final in the past six seasons and will face Wofford in the SoCon Championship Game on ESPN2 at 9 p.m. on Monday. Furman drops to 22-10 on the year with its third loss of the season against CofC and eighth straight overall against the Cougars.
"I thought it was a really competitive basketball game," said Paladin head coach Jeff Jackson, who led Furman to its most wins since 1980. "I thought both teams were getting after it physically. Give Charleston all the credit. They played extremely well."
Furman, which led 29-25 at intermission, fashioned an 11-point advantage on three occasions early in the second half, but Goudelock and an explosive Cougar offense weathered the Paladin attack. Back-to-back three-pointers by Noah States and Amu Saaka pushed Furman's lead to 40-29 just 4:03 into the second period. A pair of Donavan Monroe baskets helped Charleston climb back within seven points before a coast-to-coast layup by Darryl Evans and thunderous dunk on the fastbreak by States had the Paladins back on top by 11 with 12:30 to play.
Goudelock responded with a jumper, but the Paladins looked to take control when Saaka's one-handed jam put Furman back in front by 11 at 48-37 with 11:22 remaining.
After a media time out, Charleston took control of the game. The Cougars reeled of an 18-3 run over the next six minutes and held Furman without a field goal from the 11:22 mark until Evans converted on a drive to the basket with just 3:24 remaining. Goudelock tallied nine of the 18 points on the decisive run as Charleston turned an 11-point deficit into a 55-51 lead when the senior tipped in his own miss with 5:57 left.
Furman, 0-for-8 from the field with five turnovers during its almost eight-minute stretch without a field goal, cut the margin to 55-54 with 3:01 left when Evans scored and Saaka buried the front end of a two-shot foul, but Charleston connected on 6-of-10 free throws in the final minutes while forcing Furman to miss its last six field goal attempts.
Goudelock, who netted 91 points in three games against the Paladins this season, was just 8-of-28 from the floor but drained 12-of-14 free throw attempts and grabbed seven rebounds. Antwaine Wiggans tallied 10 points and nine rebounds while Trent Wiedeman scored 10 points and grabbed 12 boards.
Charleston shot only 33.3% from the field and just 3-for-15 from three-point range. The Cougars, however, outscored Furman 24-14 at the foul line on 36 attempts and recorded 22 points off of 17 Paladin turnovers.
Senior Jordan Miller paced Furman with 11 points on 4-of-9 shooting while Saaka added 10 points and a team-high nine rebounds. Fellow senior Darryl Evans chipped in with nine points, five boards and five assists.
The Paladins shot just 35.2% from the field and made only 6-of-19 three-point attempts. Furman managed a 42-40 edge on the glass, but the Cougars outscored the Paladins in second chance points 16-13.
The Paladins will have to wait until Sunday, March 13, to find out if their 22-10 record and No. 110 RPI as of Sunday is enough to earn them a bid to the postseason.
"One hundred and forty teams get to play postseason basketball, and it will be pretty hard to find 139 better than ours," said Jackson.
"One Spirit. One Team. One Furman."