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Second Half Run Helps Furman Power Past Western Carolina, 53-49

Kris Acox
Kris Acox

Greenville, S.C. -- Furman limited Western Carolina to 25.8% shooting and used a 19-0 second half run to rally past the Catamounts, 53-49, in Southern Conference men's basketball action on Thursday night at Timmons Arena.

The win snapped a seven-game skid for the Paladins and improved Furman to 8-20 overall and 5-12 in league play.  The Catamounts dropped to 13-16 overall and 8-9 in the SoCon.

Junior Stephen Croone netted a game-high 15 points to pace three Paladins in double figures and surpassed 1,300 points for his career.  Junior Kris Acox notched his sixth double-double of the season with 12 points and a career-high tying 17 rebounds, while freshman Geoff Beans added 11 points, including nine during the decisive second half run.

Western Carolina held a 37-28 lead with under 10:30 to go when Acox grabbed consecutive offensive boards before earning a trip to the foul line.  He connected on both free throws, and after a pair of offensive boards on the next possession, Beans scored and completed the three-point play at the foul line to trim the Catamount lead to 37-33.

Following an Acox steal, freshman Devin Sibley drained two free throws and then gave the Paladins the lead when he converted on all three trips to the charity stripe on Furman's next possession after drawing a three-shot foul.  After Croone added a three-point play on a drive from the left wing with 6:36 to play, Beans buried a three on the next possession before converting on all three free throws following a three-shot foul the next time down the floor to up the Furman lead to 47-37 with 4:57 to go.

All told, Furman held the Catamounts without a bucket for 5:49 and limited Western Carolina to just one basket in a stretch of over 8:30 in the second half.  The Paladins struggled from the foul line down the stretch, making just 4-of-18 free throws in the final four minutes.  James Sinclair hit a three with 6.4 seconds left to trim the Furman lead to 52-49, but Beans managed to hit 1-of-2 free throws at the other end with less than five seconds left to secure the win.

Furman shot just 28.3%, but the Paladins made 24-of-42 free throws and used 19 offensive rebounds to register 16 second-chance points.  Coach Niko Medved's club finished with a 48-46 edge on the class and held Western Carolina to 17-of-66 shooting, including 3-for-23 from three-point range.

The Catamounts held a 24-19 lead at the half and upped their lead to as many as nine points before Furman's game-changing run.  Mike Brown led Western Carolina with 14 points and 16 rebounds, while Sinclair added 13 points on 4-for-23 shooting.

Furman caps the regular season on Saturday when it hosts first place Wofford at 4 p.m. in Timmons Arena.  Prior to the game, the Paladins will honor senior Aaron O'Neill, who will be playing his final home game.

Saturday's game can be heard live on the Furman IMG Sports Network on flagship station WGOG 96.3 FM and Fox Sports 1440 AM with play-by-play voice Dan Scott.  The game will be stream live on the SoCon Digital Network and the audio broadcast will be available by logging onto TuneIn.com.  Links for the broadcast and live statistics will be available at FurmanPaladins.com.

Jordan Caskey, Furman Sports Information