GREENVILLE, S.C.–Furman opened the 2021-22 in front of students and unlimited capacity for the first time since (Feb. 29, 2020) against The Citadel on Senior Day at Timmons Arena when it hosted North Greenville at Timmons Arena.
Furman opened with the type of adrenaline you might expect from having gone through a season fraught with so many unknowns, having students and a crowd yelling seemingly almost alone propelled the Paladins held a 25-8 lead over visiting North Greenville by the first media timeout was whistled. It led to the eventual expected outcome, as the Paladins picked up a 118-66 win over the non-Divion I Crusaders to open the campaign.
The win saw the Paladins improved to 75-12 at Timmons Arena since the start of 2015-16 season. For head coach Bob Richey, it was also a milestone night, facing his alma mater, picking up his 90th win at the helm of the Furman basketball program.
But you can’t get to March without going through the rigors of the regular-season, and that starts with taking care of business of the opponent in front of you. The Paladins did that in a quick and dominating fashion, using school records for assists (34) and three-pointers made (22).
The amazing thing about Furman’s record 34 assists in the contest was the fact that it came on 46 made baskets. The Paladins had five players finish in double figures in the win, with seniors Mike Bothwell and Alex Hunter leading the way for the Paladins, posting 22 points apiece, while fellow senior Jalen Slawson completed the contest by adding 19 points, eight boards, three steals and dished out four assists in his new role at the No. 4 position for the Paladins.
Bothwell went 8-for-10 from the field, which included a 3-for-5 performance from three-point land. The senior from Cleveland Heights OH, also posted a team-high tying three steals, as both he and Slawson combined for half of Furman’s 12 thefts in the contest.
Hunter, who along with Bothwell, was also a preseason All-SoCon selection, connected on 8-of-11 shots for the game, which included a 6-for-9 shooting effort from three-point land. Hunter also dished out four assists and grabbed a pair of rebounds without turning the ball over.
Joining the senior trio in double figures for the Paladins were a pair of newcomers, in grad transfer Garrison, who finished with 14 points, while true freshman guard J.P. Pegues posted all 10 of his points in the contest in the second half. His six assists led all Paladins.
North Greenville, which trailed by 21 points, put together a nice 9-2 run to cut the Paladin lead to 38-24. However, the Paladins took back control of the game over the final 5:30, outscoring the Crusaders 28-3 to take a 62-27 lead into the break.
A pair of Pegues treys early in the second half extended Furman’s lead to 40 points, and with 10:49 remaining, one of Garrison’s four triples in the contest would yield the Paladins first 50 point lead, at 93-43. Furman’s largest lead of 54 points was achieved on a triple by sophomore guard Joe Anderson, giving the Paladins a 107-53 lead with 7:14 remaining.
Along with its 50% (22-of-44) shooting performance from three-point range, the Paladins also connected on 56.1% (46-of-82) shots from the field in the contest, and also posted 29 points off 18 Crusader turnovers.
Additionally, the Paladins also held advantages in points in the paint (44-36), second-chance points (22-7), fast-break points (17-5) and bench scoring (32-22).
Post-game press conference:
Next Up: at Louisville (1-0)/Friday night at the KFC Yum Center (7:02 p.m. EST)