MACON, GA. — Tierra Hodges scored 26 points, including 12 in a decisive fourth quarter, to power Furman past Southern Conference front runner Mercer, 69-66, in women’s basketball action Thursday evening at Hawkins Arena.

Hodges, a fifth-year senior, contributed a pair of baskets over the final 10 minutes but made her biggest impact at the free throw line, where she converted 8-of-9 opportunities, to help the Paladins (9-8, 2-1 SoCon) build a pair of 10-point leads and hold off a late rally by the Bears (11-6, 4-1 SoCon).

The win was the first by Furman in Macon since the 2014-15 season, halting a seven-game losing skid.

Hodges complimented her game high 26-point effort with 15 rebounds to run her string of double-double performance to six and 11 this season. In the process the 5-foot-9 Covington, Ga., product climbed to 11th on Furman’s career scoring ledger (1,394 points) and moved to within one rebound of tying the school’s all-time caroms standard, currently held by Natalie Cleckley (1,102).

Furman trailed 45-38 late in the third quarter when Sydney James drained a 3-pointer to ignite the Paladins’ rally.  A Tate Walters trey closed out the third period and pulled the Paladins to within 45-44, which James promptly flipped to give Furman a 46-45 lead on a driving layup to open the fourth quarter.

James capped Furman’s momentum swinging 11-0 run with another 3-pointer two minutes into the frame to stake the Paladins to a 49-45 lead.

Mercer regained the advantage, 51-50, on an Erin Houpt 3-pointer at the 6:30 mark, but it was short-lived as Furman again countered, with seven points from Hodges in an 11-0 run, to go up, 60-50, with just over two minutes remaining. 

The Bears got within three points three times in the closing two minutes.  Furman, however, used free throws to account for its final seven points to put the game in the win column.

James followed Hodges in the scoring column with 17 points, including 11 in the second half, and Walters finished with 15.

The Paladins shot 44 percent from the field (24×54) and were efficient from 3-point range, draining 6-of-11 attempts.

Mercer, which got 22 points from Amoria Neal-Tysor, cashed in on 28-of-69 shots (41 percent).