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Furman Shocks Chattanooga To Reach SoCon Semifinals, 69-67

Devin Sibley
Devin Sibley
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Asheville, N.C. -- No. 10 seed Furman outscored No. 2 seed Chattanooga 43-36 in the second half and made 12 free throws down the stretch to top the Mocs, 69-67, on Saturday night at the U.S. Cellular Center and advance to the semifinal round of the Southern Conference Men's Basketball Championship presented by General Shale.

The Paladins (10-21) will face No. 3 seed Mercer in the semifinal round on Sunday at 8:30 p.m. with the winner earning a spot in Monday night's SoCon Championship Game on ESPN2 at 7 p.m.  Sunday's game will be streamed live on ESPN3 and can be heard 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 audio broadcast of the game will also be available by logging onto TuneIn.com.  Links for the broadcast and live statistics will be available at FurmanPaladins.com.

Southern Conference Freshman of the Year Devin Sibley paced the Furman offense with 16 points, including finishing 7-of-8 from the free throw line, while adding six rebounds. Stephen Croone went 8-of-9 from the charity stripe and totaled 13 points, while Kris Acox, Kendrec Ferrara and John Davis III each added nine points. Furman finished the game shooting 42.9 percent from the floor and 84.4 percent from the free throw line, sinking 27-of-32 free throws in the second half.

Trailing 31-26 at the break, Furman opened the second half on a quick 5-0 run to tie the game at 31 with 18:21 remaining, before a three-point-play by Acox pushed Furman's run to 8-0 and gave the Paladins the 34-31 lead. Furman continued to add to its lead, using a layup by Ferrara to take a 36-31 lead heading into the first media timeout of the half.

Two free throws by Ronrico White out of the timeout ended the nearly four-minute Chattanooga scoring drought and cut the Furman lead to three at 36-33.  Furman pushed the lead back to five before a 6-0 run by Chattanooga gave the Mocs the lead at 39-38 heading into the under-12:00 media timeout.

Chattanooga extended its run to 8-0 out of the timeout to push the lead back to three at 41-38, before a free throw and a layup gave the Mocs their largest lead of the half at 44-38. Devin Sibley ended Furman's nearly six-minute scoring drought with two free throws to cut it to 44-40. The teams then traded baskets until a three by Ferrara cut the Chattanooga lead to one at 46-45, but a three-pointer on the other end by Greg Pryor stretched the Mocs' lead back to four at 49-45 with 6:46 remaining.

Out of the under-8:00 timeout, a layup by Daniel Fowler cut Chattanooga's lead to 49-47, before two free throws by Devin Sibley tied the game at 49 with 5:30 remaining. Another layup from Fowler pushed Furman's run to 6-0 to give the Paladins the 51-49 lead with under five minutes remaining. Fowler continued to stay hot for the Paladins, using two free throws to push Furman's lead back to four at 53-49 heading into the under-4:00 timeout.

A layup by Justin Tuoyo ended Chattanooga's three-minute scoring drought and cut Furman's lead to two with 3:08 remaining, before a free throw by Davis pushed the lead back to three. Sibley knocked down two free throws with less than two and a half minutes to go to give Furman a five-point lead at 56-51. Two free throws by Casey Jones on the other end cut the lead back to three, before a free throw by Sibley give Furman the two-possession lead. The teams traded baskets until a free throw by Chuck Ester cut Furman's lead to two at 58-56 with under a minute to go.

Furman pushed the lead back to six on free throws by Croone, before two Chattanooga free throws cut the lead to four at 62-58 with 32 seconds to go. Croone pushed the lead back to six with another two free throws, before White cut the lead to three with 21 seconds to go. Beans drained two free throws to push the lead back to five with 13.9 seconds on the clock, before three free throws by White cut the lead to two with 11.9 seconds.

Beans pushed the lead back to four with free throws before White hit a contested three to cut the Furman lead to one. However, Beans continued his strong free throw shooting down the stretch to seal the 69-67 upset win for the Paladins.

Furman shot 42.9% for the game and made good on 27-of-32 trips to the foul line.  The Paladins committed just 10 turnovers.  Chattanooga connected on 43.6% of its field goal attempts and managed a 32-28 rebounding edge and 32-20 scoring advantage in the paint.

Chattanooga (22-10) was led by Ronrico White with 16 points, including nine in the game's final minute, while Casey Jones added 12. Chuck Ester added a team-high seven rebounds, while White added a team-high five assists.

The victory gives Furman its first trip to the semifinals since the Paladin upended Chattanooga in the 2011 quarterfinals before falling to the College of Charleston in the semifinal round.

Jordan Caskey, Furman Sports Information