Dallas, Texas – Freshman Brian Bernardi came off of the bench to score a career-high 20 points and SMU scored the game's first 13 points as the Mustangs defeated Furman, 72-53, on Sunday afternoon at Moody Coliseum.
The loss, Furman's fourth straight, dropped the Paladins to 3-9 overall and 0-6 on the road this season. SMU upped its record to 10-4 and improved to 5-0 at home.
The Mustangs held Furman without a field goal for the opening 8:12 and built a 13-0 lead before Bryant Irwin buried three triples to key a 13-5 Paladin run that trimmed the SMU lead to 18-13 with 8:01 left in the first period. SMU finished the half on a 20-8 run, including eight points from Bernardi, to grab a 38-23 halftime lead.
Jalen Jones' basket with 14:48 left pushed the Mustang lead to 47-28, but Furman caught fire beyond the arc to cut the deficit to 11 points at 58-47 when Irwin connected on his fifth trey of the game with 7:31 to play. Ryan Manuel and Jones answered for the Mustangs by each draining a pair of free throws before Bernardi canned his fourth triple of the contest at the 5:10 mark to put SMU in front 65-49.
Bernardi connected on 4-of-7 treys to net his career-high 20 points while Jones added 14 points and eight rebounds. Cannen Cunningham poured in 13 points to go with nine boards and Shawn Williams added 10 points for SMU. The Mustangs shot 43.5% from the field and made 27-of-32 free throw attempts, including scoring 19 of their 34 second half points at the foul line.
Irwin drained 5-of-11 three-pointers to pace Furman with 15 points while fellow senior Colin Reddick added 12 points and seven rebounds. The Paladins shot a season low 28.1% from the field and made just 10 of their season-high 35 three-point attempts.
Furman returns to Southern Conference play on January 5, when it faces College of Charleston in Charleston, S.C., at 5 p.m.
Saturday's game will be aired live on 103.3 WOLT-FM and 96.3 WGOG-FM with Dan Scott providing play-by-play and Ron Smith handling color commentator duties.
Fans can follow live statistics of the game and listen to the live steaming broadcast thru Stretch Audio by logging onto www.FurmanPaladins.com.