Chattanooga, Tenn. -- First place Chattanooga strengthened its hold on the Southern Conference lead with a 62-54 victory over the Furman Paladins before a crowd of 4,894 on Saturday evening at McKenzie Arena.
With its eighth straight win, Chattanooga improved to 21-3 overall and 10-1 in the league. The Mocs upped their perfect home record to 11-0 on the season. The Paladins, who saw their five-game winning streak come to an end, dropped to 14-11 overall and 8-4 in SoCon play.
Trailing 53-43 with under four minutes to play, Furman used a 9-2 run to close the gap to 55-52 with 1:10 remaining. Freshman Matt Rafferty opened the late run with two free throws and senior Stephen Croone scored four consecutive points before Daniel Fowler drained a three-pointer with 70 seconds to go after Geoff Beans kept Furman's possession alive with an offensive rebound.
After Greg Pryor converted on a pair of free throws for the Mocs, Devin Sibley drove to the basket, scored and was fouled with 30 seconds on the clock to bring the Paladins to within 57-54. The sophomore missed the free throw and Chattanooga's Chuck Esther made just 1-of-2 from the charity stripe with 24 second to go, but Croone committed a turnover following the rebound of Esther's miss. Pryor knocked down two free throws when Furman was forced to foul on the inbounds and Dee Oldham also hit two free throws to close out the game moments later after Beans' missed on a long three-point attempt.
Center Justin Tuoyo connected on 7-of-9 shots to lead the Mocs with 19 points. Pryor totaled 11 points and five assists, while Tre' McLean added 10 points and seven rebounds.
Furman held Chattanooga to just 40% shooting from the field, but the Mocs converted on 22-of-28 free throw attempts and turned 14 Furman turnovers into 18 points.
Croone paced Furman with 18 points, including a 7-for-8 effort at the foul line, while Sibley chipped in with 12 points. Furman fashioned a 35-28 rebounding edge and 11-6 edge in second chance points, but the Paladins made good on just 38.3% of their field goal tries.
After Furman took its only lead at 3-2, Chattanooga used a 14-2 run to take control of the game in the early going. The Paladins worked the deficit down to 26-21 at the break before a 15-7 Mocs run to open the second period increased Chattanooga's lead to 13 points.
Furman returns to action on Monday night when it opens a three-game homestand by hosting UNCG at Timmons Arena. Tip-off is slated for 7 p.m.
Monday's game will be broadcasted live on the American Sports Network (ASN). It can also be heard on the Furman IMG Radio Network at WGOG 101.7FM and FoxSports 1440AM, as well as, on your mobile device through the TuneIn Radio app. Links for the video stream, radio broadcast and live statistics are be posted at FurmanPaladins.com.
For the first time on Monday, Furman will offer free trolley ride to and from the game for students. The trolley will operate from 6 p.m. - 10 p.m. and pick up and drop off at South Housing, North Village and the library.
Tickets are still available for Monday's game, as well as Thursday contest versus The Citadel and Saturday's home finale against Mercer. Visit the Timmons Arena Box Office or purchase your tickets online at FurmanPaladins.com.
Jordan Caskey, Furman Sports Information