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ETSU Eliminates Cold-Shooting Paladins In SoCon Semis, 63-52

Jordan Lyons
Jordan Lyons

Asheville, N.C. -- No. 2 seed ETSU's pressure defense limited Furman to 52 points and 31.7% shooting as the Bucs claimed a 63-52 victory to eliminate the Paladins in the Southern Conference Men's Basketball Championship semifinals on Sunday night at the U.S. Cellular Center.

With the victory, ETSU improved to 25-8 on the season and punched its ticket to Monday's championship game against the top-seeded UNCG Spartans at 9 p.m. on ESPN2. The loss snapped Furman's seven-game winning streak and dropped the third-seeded Paladins to 23-10 on the season.

The Bucs raced out to a 32-19 halftime lead by holding Furman to 7-for-29 shooting in the opening 20 minutes, including just 1-for-10 from three-point range. ETSU opened the second half on an 18-9 run behind nine points from guard Desonta Bradford to push its lead to 50-27 on the senior's dunk with 11:20 to play.

Sophomore Jordan Lyons tried to ignite the Furman offense by draining all three free throws after being fouled beyond the arc as the Paladins fashioned a 20-9 run of their own. Senior Geoff Beans capped the spurt with a three-pointer with 3:33 left to trim the Bucs' lead to 59-47, but the Paladins ran out of time in their quest for a second SoCon finals appearance in the last four years and second win over ETSU in the last eight days.

Bradford scored 20 points to lead all scorers, while Devontavious Payne tallied 12 points and Mladen Armus posted a double-double with 10 points and 12 rebounds. ETSU shot 46.4% from the floor and compiled a 15-4 edge in points off turnovers.

Lyons hit 5-of-13 shots to finish as the lone Paladin in double figures with 17 points. Furman connected on just 19-of-60 shots, including only 4-of-26 attempts from three-point range.