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Wofford Outlasts Furman In SoCon Championship, 67-64

Geoff Beans
Geoff Beans

Asheville, N.C. -- John Davis III's last second three-point attempt from the right wing came up short as Wofford survived to down Furman and claim the Southern Conference Men's Basketball Championship, 67-64, on Monday evening at the U.S. Cellular Center in Asheville, N.C.

The No. 1 seed Terriers improved to 28-6 and claimed the league's automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament, while the tournament run and season ended for No. 10 seed Furman, who dropped to 11-22.

With 2:32 to play, Wofford's Eric Garcia drained a three to put the Terriers ahead 64-60.  Furman freshman Daniel Fowler answered with a layin with 1:09 to play before Garcia hit 1-of-2 free throws with 26.8 seconds left to increase the Terrier lead to 65-62.  

Junior Stephen Croone split two defenders and scored at the rim with 15 seconds left to cut the Wofford lead to 65-64, but the Covington, Ga., native picked up his fifth foul on the Terrier inbounds pass.  Garcia restored the three-point lead with a pair of free throws.  Following a Wofford foul and two timeouts, Furman got an open look for SoCon Freshman of the Year Devin Sibley on the right wing off of the inbounds pass, but Wofford's Karl Cochran blocked the shot and Lee Skinner was fouled with under four seconds left.

Skinner missed the free throw and Furman's Beans was fouled on the rebound.  The Paladins inbounded the ball to Davis III, who raced across midcourt and got an open look at a long three-pointer, but the freshman's shot came up short.

"I couldn't ask for one more ounce of effort from these guys here in this tournament," said Furman coach Niko Medved.  "It was unbelievable. They played their hearts out. It was an unbelievable game. It was as good of a game as I have been a part of in basketball. Everybody stepped up. Kris Acox broke his foot four minutes into the game. We played Geoff Beans at center and we never backed down an inch. I told these guys I couldn't be prouder of a group. They showed so much here, and I hate it for them to lose. I love the way that they play and the way that they fought back. It was a great effort tonight."

Skinner, the tournament MVP, scored 17 points to lead four Terriers in double figures.  Garcia poured in 15 points, Cochran scored 11 and Spencer Collins finished with 10 points.  Wofford shot 43.1% from the field and converted on 17-of-21 trips to the charity stripe.  The Terriers turned 12 offensive rebounds into an 18-5 edge in second chance points and outscored Furman 15-7 on points off of turnovers.

Beans connected on 5-of-7 treys to pace the Paladins with 15 points, while Croone hit 5-of-7 field goal attempts to register 14 points.  Fowler scored 11 points on 6-of-6 shooting and Kendrec Ferrara added 10 points and five rebounds.

Furman shot 52.2% from the floor and a season-best 60% (9-15) from three-point range.  The Paladins were 7-of-8 at the foul line.

The lead changed hands five times in the first half before Furman and Wofford went into the break tied at 36-36.  The teams traded the lead six times in the second half before Cochran hit a three with 4:03 to play to put the Terriers in front for good.

Croone was named to the SoCon All-Tournament First Team, while Kris Acox, Beans and Sibley earned second team honors.  Acox, the SoCon's leading rebounder, scored six points and blocked two shots prior to suffering a game-ending foot injury.

Jordan Caskey, Furman Sports Information