Greenville, S.C. -- Senior Daniel Fowler scored a team-high 21 points to pace five Paladins in double figures as Furman rallied from a nine-point second half deficit to down Mercer, 74-71, on Saturday afternoon at Timmons Arena.
With its third consecutive victory and eighth in its last nine outings, Furman improved to 12-4 overall and 3-0 in the SoCon. Mercer slipped to 7-8 overall and fell to 0-2 in conference play.
Trailing 59-50 with under nine minutes to play, Furman's Matt Rafferty ignited an 11-0 run with a layup on an assist from Geoff Beans and a pair of free throws. Devin Sibley converted in the paint to trim the Mercer lead to three before Fowler drained a triple to tie the game with 6:18 left and put Furman in front on a pair of foul shots with 5:44 remaining.
After Mercer tied the game on a Marcus Cohen basket on the Bears' next possession, Fowler answered with a one-handed slam on a drive down the right side of the lane. Mercer's Desmond Ringer pulled the Bears even at 63-63 with 3:52 to go, but Fowler capped his run of 10 consecutive points by burying a three-pointer to give the Paladins the lead for good at 66-63 with 2:53 on the clock. Rafferty stole the ball on the next Mercer possession and the Paladins followed with a couple of offensive rebounds before Sibley drew a foul and made the layup to increase the Furman advantage to 68-63 with 1:21 remaining.
Furman missed the front end of one-and-one opportunities on back-to-back possessions as Mercer trimmed the margin back to three points, but Andrew Brown stole the ball from the Bears' Cory Kilby with 23 seconds left and Fowler converted on two free throws. After a Mercer layup, Jordan Lyons drained two more free throws to put the game away with nine seconds to go.
Fowler hit 6-of-11 shots and made good on all six of his free throw attempts while adding four rebounds, four assists and two steals to help Furman to its fourth straight win over Mercer. Lyons and Rafferty tallied 12 points apiece. Sibley finished with 11 points and John Davis III posted 10 points.
The Paladins shot 48.1% from the field, however, they made just 8-of-28 three-point attempts and shot 64% at the foul line. Furman committed a season-low eight turnovers and recorded 10 steals to outscore the Bears 14-6 on points off turnovers. Head coach Bob Richey's squad also managed an 11-10 edge in second chance points despite a 37-24 deficit on the glass.
Furman led by as many as seven points in the first half before falling behind and rallying to lead 37-36 at the break. The Paladins improved to 11-0 this season when leading at intermission.
Ringer, 7-of-8 from the floor and 8-for-8 at the foul line, led Mercer with 22 points. Cohen came off of the bench to score 14 points, while Demetre Rivers and Ria'n Holland scored 13 and 11 points, respectively, for the Bears who shot 50.9%.
Furman will try to start SoCon play at 4-0 for the first time since the 1986-87 season when it travels to McKenzie Arena to face the Chattanooga Mocs on Wednesday, January 10, at 7 p.m. The game will be streamed live on ESPN3 and fans can also listen to the call on FoxSports 1440AM, via the TuneIn Radio app or through Stretch Audio at FurmanPaladins.com.
NOTE: The Head Coach Bob Richey Show will take place on Monday night at Shortfield's In Travelers Rest. Fans can list on 1440AM and Stretch Audio or watch live on Facebook on the Furman Paladins page at 6:30 p.m.
Jordan Caskey, Furman Sports Information