GREENVILLE, S.C. (AP) – Noah Gurley scored 17 points, Alex Hunter and Andrew Brown had 16 points apiece and No. 23 Furman pulled away late to beat Charleston Southern 77-69 on Tuesday night in its first-ever home game as a Top 25 team.
The Paladins (11-0) have been one of college basketball’s biggest surprises with their school-record run to start the season – a stretch that included defeating defending national champs Villanova and a second Final Four team from last year in Loyola-Chicago.
But Furman struggled to break away from the Buccaneers (4-5) until the final nine minutes.
Charleston Southern trailed 54-52 on Dontrell Shuler’s layup with less than 10 minutes left. After that, the Paladins went on a 14-4 run to move in front. Tre Clark had four points during the surge and when Noah Gurley nailed a 3-pointer with 5:51 to go, Furman was up 68-56.
Charleston Southern could not respond and college basketball’s feel-good story of the season remained on track.
The Paladins won despite a scoreless night from leading scorer Jordan Lyons (20.2 points per game), who missed all seven of his shots.
Matt Rafferty had 14 points and 14 rebounds for Furman.
Deontaye Buskey and Duncan LeXander had 13 points each for Charleston Southern.
Furman, which joined the AP Top 25 last week for the first time in school history, had to wait another week – and make it through road wins at Elon and South Carolina Upstate – before it could celebrate its achievement on its home court. And it looked like the Paladins would have plenty to cheer about after they used a 17-8 run midway through the opening period to build a 26-18 lead.
But Furman went cold after that, missing seven straight shots as the Buccaneers of the Big South Conference tightened things up.
Charleston Southern: The Buccaneers are nearing the end of a brutal opening stretch with seven of their first 11 games on the road. Those have included losses at Florida, Middle Tennessee and Marquette. Charleston Southern’s run ends with games at North Florida and Clemson in the next week. Coach Barclay Radebaugh hopes the time away from home toughens the Bucs for Big South play.
Furman: The Paladins looked edgy in their first home appearance as a ranked team. They looked ready to take charge with a 51-42 lead before helping Charleston Southern’s comeback with four straight turnovers. Furman probably won’t win many games where Lyons struggles as he did against the Bucs.
Charleston Southern is at North Florida on Saturday.
Furman finishes a two-game homestand by hosting UNC Wilmington on Saturday.
(Copyright 2018 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)