Greenville, S.C. -- Junior Matt Rafferty tallied a career-high 22 points to lead three Paladins in double figures as Furman toppled UNC Asheville, 83-72, in non-conference men's basketball action on Tuesday evening at Timmons Arena.
Rafferty, a native of Hinsdale, Ill., connected on 8-of-9 field goal attempts and all six of his free throws while pulling down nine rebounds, dishing out three assists and recording three steals. Senior Devin Sibley poured in 16 points to go with five assists and Andrew Brown added 11 points and four steals as the Paladins won for the fourth time in their last five outings.
Furman (6-3) jumped out to an 11-0 lead on the strength of three Rafferty baskets and used an 8-0 run later in the period to build a 32-12 advantage before carrying a 37-25 lead into halftime. After UNC Asheville scored the first basket of the second half, Sibley drained a three to trigger an 18-4 run that gave Furman a 55-29 lead with 15:25 remaining after Fowler and Jordan Lyons buried back-to-back treys.
UNCA (5-4), 50.9% from the field, shot 61.3% in the second half to trim the Furman lead back to 11, but never got the margin into single digits.
Furman shot 50.9%, hit 8-of-24 threes to outscore the Bulldogs by 12 points behind the arc and connected on 17-of-22 trips to the foul line. The Paladins totaled 25 points off 21 UNCA turnovers and registered season-highs with 20 assists and 14 steals.
Kevin Vannatta paced Asheville with 18 points, Macio Teague scored 14 and Alec Wnuk finished with 12. The Bulldogs held a 31-28 advantage on the glass, but became the second straight Furman opponent to fail to make a three-pointer in the first half. UNCA finished 4-for-13 from long range.
The Paladins go for their third consecutive win on Saturday when they host S.C State in a 4 p.m. contest at Timmons Arena. The game will be streamed on ESPN3 with the audio broadcast available on FoxSports 1440AM, TuneIn Radio on via Stretch Audio at FurmanPaladins.com.
Saturday will be Furman's holiday celebration. Santa will be in attendance, the first 150 fans will receive a purple Santa hat and there will be a Christmas sweater making station.
Jordan Caskey, Furman Sports Information