Greenville, S.C. -- Sophomore Stephen Croone poured in a career-high 30 points and freshman William Gates Jr. added 18 points to lead Furman to a 75-64 victory over Gardner-Webb in non-conference men's basketball action Tuesday night on YP Court at Timmons Arena.
The win improved the Paladins to 2-0 on the season while the Runnin' Bulldogs dropped to 0-2.
Croone, who scored 18 of his game-high 30 points in the second half, connected on 10-of-19 shots and converted on 9-of-12 trips to the foul line in 34 minutes of action. Gates made 7-of-11 shots, including 2-for-2 from three-point range, while sophomore Kendrec Ferrara added six points and a game-high 10 rebounds. Larry Wideman chipped in with nine points and six boards.
After leading in the opening minutes by six, Furman trailed 20-19 midway through the first half before Croone aided a 7-0 run with a pair of free throws and a layup off of a steal to give the Paladins a 26-20 advantage with 7:46 to play in the first half. The Paladins extended the lead to 10 points before settling for a 37-29 edge at intermission.
Gardner-Webb trimmed the margin to just two points at 43-41, but Furman answered with a 20-9 run and secured a 63-50 lead with 6:59 to play on Ferrara's offensive board and stick back. The Runnin's Bulldogs responded with a run of their own to cut the Paladin lead to 65-58 with 4:13 to play following back-to-back baskets from point guard Tyler Strange, who finished with 17 points and six assists.
The Paladins put the game out of reach by forcing Gardner-Webb into turnovers on three of its next four possessions, and Croone netted six straight points as part of an 8-0 spurt as Furman opened the lead to 73-58 with 1:23 left.
Furman shot 44.4% for the night, connected on 5-of-13 three-point attempts and 18-of-27 foul shots. The Paladins out-rebounded Gardner-Webb 40-35 and scored 20 points off of 17 offensive rebounds.
The Runnin' Bulldogs shot 40.7% from the floor, but made just 3-of-16 shots beyond the arc. Jerome Hill came off of the bench to notch a double-double with 19 points and 10 rebounds. Donta Harper joined Strange and Hill in double figures with 11 points on just 3-for-13 shooting.
Furman will cap its three-game homestand on Friday when it hosts 2012 NCAA Sweet Sixteen participant Florida Gulf Coast at 6 p.m. in a game that will be televised live on CSS and streamed live on ESPN3.
Fans can follow live stats for Friday's game by logging onto www.FurmanPaladins.com. Tickets are available through Ticketmaster at www.FurmanPaladins.com or at the Timmons Arena Box Office.