Greenville, S.C. (Furman SID) — Senior Devin Sibley poured in a team-high 17 points, including a four-point play with 1:25 remaining to put the Paladins in front, as Furman downed ETSU, 79-76, in the regular season finale on Sunday afternoon at Freedom Hall in Johnson City, Tenn.
With the victory Furman improved to 22-9 overall, 13-5 in Southern Conference play and secured the No. 3 seed for next weekend’s SoCon Men’s Basketball Championship. The Paladins will face No. 6 seed Western Carolina in quarterfinal round action on Saturday, March 3, at 8:30 p.m. at the U.S. Cellular Center in Asheville, N.C. ETSU fell to 23-8 overall and 14-4 in the league.
Daniel Fowler found Sibley on the left wing and the Knoxville, Tenn., native drained the triple to put Furman ahead 74-71 before being knocked to the floor with 1:25 to play. After Sibley converted the free throw to up the margin to 75-71, Desonta Bradford drew a foul in the lane and made 1-of-2 free throws on the opposite end for the Bucs.
Fowler was fouled on the ensuing inbounds pass and converted on a pair of trips to the charity stripe, but Bradford trimmed the lead back to three with a layup with 52.9 seconds to play. On Furman’s next possession, Fowler missed a jumper, but got his own rebound and John Davis III hit 1-of-2 free throws with 15.5 to play after drawing a foul.
Trailing 78-74 with five seconds to play, Dontavious Payne drew a foul on a drive to the basket and made both free throw attempts to pull the Bucs within 78-76. Davis was fouled on the inbounds and made his first free throw to put the Paladins ahead 79-76. Bo Hodges rebounded a miss on the second attempt and fired a pass to Payne on the right wing, but his attempt to tie the game rimmed out as time expired.
Sibley connected on 5-of-12 shots from the floor and 5-of-7 trips to the foul line, while adding six rebounds to lead the Paladins. Junior Matt Rafferty added 14 points and six rebounds to go with three steals. Davis and Fowler totaled 12 points apiece, while Andrew Brown hit 3-of-6 three-point attempts to finish with 11 points.
The Paladins shot 45.3% from the field, including 54.% in the second half. Furman made good on 10-of-20 three-point attempts and 21-of-28 trips to the foul line.
ETSU, 50.9% from the field and 12-of-19 at the line, managed a 44-20 edge in scoring in the paint. Bradford paced the Bucs with 19 points and David Burrell tallied 15. Payne and Jalen McCloud ended the game with 13 points apiece.
In a game that featured 13 lead changes, Furman led 40-39 at the break and held a 60-52 lead with 10:32 to play following a Davis jumper. A 17-4 run gave the Bucs a 69-64 advantage on Miaden Armus’ basket with 4:15 left before the Paladins answered with back-to-back treys from Brown and Rafferty to retake the lead. ETSU knotted the contest at 71-71 on a McCloud free throw with 1:43 to go prior to Sibley’s four-point play putting Furman in front for good.
The win marked Furman’s first in Johnson City since January of 2005 and gave the Paladins 22 wins in a season for the sixth time in school history. Furman’s 13 SoCon regular season wins mark the third highest total for a Paladin squad.
Tickets for Saturday’s SoCon quarterfinal are on sale at FurmanPaladins.com and at the Timmons Arena Box Office. Saturday’s game will also be streamed live on ESPN3 and the WatchESPN app. Fans can listen to the broadcast on FoxSports 1440AM, thru the TuneIn Radio App and on StretchAudio at FurmanPaladins.com.
2018 Southern Conference Men’s Basketball Championship schedule
Friday, March 2 (ESPN3)
Game 1 – (8) The Citadel vs. (9) VMI, 5 p.m.
Game 2 – (7) Samford vs. (10) Chattanooga, 7:30 p.m.
Saturday, March 3 (ESPN3)
Game 3 – (1) UNCG vs. Game 1 winner, 12 p.m.
Game 4 – (4) Mercer vs. (5) Wofford, 2:30 p.m.
Game 5 – (2) ETSU vs. Game 2 winner, 6 p.m.
Game 6 – (3) Furman vs. (6) Western Carolina, 8:30 p.m.
Sunday, March 4 (ESPN3)
Game 7 – Game 3 winner vs. Game 4 winner, 4 p.m.
Game 8 – Game 5 winner vs. Game 6 winner, 6 p.m.
Monday, March 5 (ESPN2)
Championship game, 9 p.m.