Furman To Entertain Samford Thursday In SoCon Season Opener

Head coach Jackie Carson's Paladins tip off SoCon play Thursday vs. Samford.
Jackie Carson

GREENVILLE, S.C. -- Furman's women's basketball team will tip off its 14-game Southern Conference schedule on Thursday when it plays host to Samford in a 5:00 p.m. contest as part of a hoops doubleheader at Timmons Arena.

Furman's men's team is set to battle The Citadel in a 7:30 p.m. clash.

The Paladins (9-5), a fifth place preseason pick in a poll of SoCon head coaches, swept Samford a year ago, posting a 54-50 win in Birmingham and 53-48 verdict in Timmons Arena.

Picked sixth in the same preseason poll of league coaches, the Bulldogs (8-7) have won five of their last six games, including a 66-61 win over Hampton on Saturday.

Furman's bid to reach 10 wins before the new year looked to be a likely result after three quarters of play last Saturday against Presbyterian.  A 14-point lead evaporated, however, over the final 10 minutes in an eventual 76-75 loss to the Blue Hose, spoiling a dominant 33-point performance by freshman forward Celena Taborn, who made 15-of-17 shots in the contest, which she complemented with a game high 13 rebounds.

Taborn (11.5 ppg, 5.2 rpg), one of the SoCon's top newcomers and league's field goal percentage leader (.608), scored  24 points against North Carolina on Dec. 10.

The Paladins, who top the SoCon in field goal percentage (.448) and average 71.5 points per game, good for second in the league, are led by senior All-SoCon forward Cierra Carter (16.4 ppg) and sophomore guard Le'Jzae Davidson (14.7 ppg).  Carter registered a career high 31 points in a 70-68 win over Ohio on Dec. 16, and Davidson threw down a career high 33 points in 71-63 win over UNC Asheville last Thursday.

Samford won eight of the first nine meetings with Furman, but the Paladins have evened things up a bit over the last five seasons, going 6-4 versus the Bulldogs in the last 10 clashes.

Furman will play host to reigning SoCon regular season champion Mercer on Saturday at 2:00 p.m. prior to the men's game, also versus Mercer, scheduled for 4:30.

Hunter Reid, Furman Sports Information