Greenville, S.C. – Sophomore Raijon Kelly drained a jumper from the right elbow with 11.3 seconds left and completed the three-point play at the foul line to lift Samford to a 57-55 victory over Furman in Southern Conference play on Saturday night at the Pete Hanna Center in Birmingham, Ala.
After Tyler Hood converted on both of his free throw attempts with 28 seconds left to trim Furman's lead to 55-54, Samford's full court pressure forced William Gates Jr. to overthrow Stephen Croone on the inbounds pass. Kelly drove to the basket and had his shot rejected, but following a Samford timeout, the guard hit a jumper while drawing contact from Kris Acox to put the Bulldogs in front, 56-55. Following the foul shot, Croone penetrated down the right side of the lane, but his shot was blocked as time expired.
The loss dropped Furman to 6-11 overall and 0-4 in SoCon play while Samford improved to 7-12 overall and 1-3 in the league.
With the game tied at 52-52 after both teams went scoreless for over four minutes, Stephen Croone worked off of a screen and buried a trey from right of the key to put Furman in front 55-52 with 43 seconds left. Hood drove to the basket on Samford's possession and appeared to be stripped of the ball by Charlie Reddick before Acox was whistled for a foul. The forward hit both shot to setup Kelly's heroics.
Hood paced the Bulldogs with 13 points and Isaiah Williams added 11. Furman held leading scorer Tim Williams to just four points and limited the Bulldogs to 34.8% shooting, but Samford converted on 21-of-25 trips tot he charity stripe and did not commit a turnover in the second half.
Samford jumped out to a 9-2 lead before William Gates Jr. netted seven first half points to propel the Paladins to a 32-29 halftime advantage. The lead changed hands five times in the second half with neither team leading by more than four points.
Sophomore Kendrec Ferrara connected on 8-of-12 field goal attempts to lead Furman with 20 points while Croone added 11 points, four boards and four assists. Furman shot 52% in the first half, but the Bulldogs limited the Paladins to 30.4% over the final 20 minutes. The Paladins managed a 32-31 edge in rebounding and committed a season-low eight turnovers.
Furman continues its three-game road trip on Thursday night when it travels to face Georgia Southern in Statesboro, Ga., at 7 p.m.
The battle between the Paladins and Eagles game can be heard live on WGOG FM 96.3, Fox Sports 1440 AM and through StretchAudio at www.FurmanPaladins.com. Fans can access live updates on Twitter by following @FurmanHoops.