Furman gets defensive in win over Radford

Senior forward Jalen Slawson/photo courtesy of Furman sports information

GREENVILLE, S.C.—Furman used one of its best defensive performances of the season to move to 3-1 in the early portion of the 2021-22 season, holding visiting Radford to a sub-40% shooting (37.5%) performance to get a 17-point win in its second game at Timmons Arena this season.

The win saw the Paladins improve to 76-12 inside the friendly confines of Timmons Arena since the start of the 2015-16 season with the win. 

How it happened:

Jalen Slawson finished with 16 points and 10 rebounds to lead Furman to its 22nd-straight home non-conference victory, as the Paladins downed Radford, 81-64, Friday evening at Timmons Arena.

With the win, Furman improved to 3-1 overall, while Radford fell to 1-3 in what was the first-ever meeting between the two programs on the men’s college basketball hardwood. The Highlanders will return to action tomorrow to take on the Navy Midshipmen (1-2) on Saturday at 5 p.m. The Paladins will face that same Navy squad on Sunday at 3 p.m.

Slawson, a senior forward from Summerville, S.C., posted his first double-double of the season, as he connected on 5-of-9 shots from the field and was a perfect 6-for-6 from the line to account for his scoring night. In addition, Slawson also dished out a pair of assists, posted four steals and blocked two shots, as he paced four Paladins in double figures in the win.

Senior Mike Bothwell made it four-straight games in double figures, posting 15 points, dished out a team-high six assists and added four boards. Bothwell connected on 4-of-7 shots from the field, including going 1-for-2 from three-point range and like Slawson, was a perfect 6-for-6 from the charity stripe. 

Conley Garrison continued his strong play in a Paladin uniform, as the grad transfer from Drury University added 14 points on 4-of-5 shooting from the field, which included a 3-for-4 from three-point range, and was 3-for-4 from the charity stripe to account for his 14 points. He also added five rebounds, four steals, one assist and a block to round out a solid all-around effort. 

Rounding out the Paladins in double figures in the contest was sophomore forward Garrett Hien, who added 11 points, five rebounds and dished out five assists. 

Radford had just one player finish in double figures, as junior Shaquan Jules finished with 12 points on 4-of-6 shooting from the field, and was a perfect 4-for-4 from the foul like in the win. 

Senior guard Josiah Jeffers finished the contest just missing double figures with nine points on 3-of-9 shooting from the field, 1-for-2 from three-point land, and a perfect 2-for-2 from the foul stripe. Forward Chyree Walker pulled down nine boards to go with eight points, as the Highlanders were able to end the night with a slight 35-34 

Unlike its previous three games this season, Furman needed its defense to spark its offense, as the Paladins went to the first media timeout treading water offensively, and off to a slow start offensively.

However, despite Furman missing its first eight shots of the game, it was only a three-pointer by Highlanders guard Tai’Reon Joseph that separated the two teams at the first media timeout, which was a testament to a strong start defensively, as the Paladins held Radford to just 1-for-8 shooting from the field in the opening few minutes until the offense could get its bearings. 

Furman’s first points came from its bench, which contributed a total of 17 points in the contest, as Marcus Foster’s layup got the Paladins on the scoreboard with 15:25 remaining in the half. His first two points were part of a night which saw Foster match his career-high for scoring, previously establishing that point total on two occasions. 

Furman then got back-to-back three-pointers from Alex Williams, who scored his first six points of his Paladin career in quick succession, as his second triple tied the game, 8-8, with 13:47 to play in the first half. Slawson then following with his first points of the night to give the Paladins their first lead of the contest, at 10-8. 

Furman would eventually carry a 38-28 lead into the halftime locker room on the strength of a 9-0 run to finish out the half, which was unlike each of the previous two games that has seen the opposition close out each of the previous two halves by closing out on runs and taking leads into the halftime locker room. 

Furman would assume the lead for good on a fast-break layup from Foster, which game the Paladins a 20-19 lead at that particular point in the contest. A pair of Bothwell free throws and a layup by Slawson would extend the Paladin lead to five. 

A Dravon Mangum three-pointer got the Highlanders back to within three, at 24-21, but that’s as close as Radford would get the rest of the half. 

Radford continued to hang around in the second half despite Furman’s best efforts to try and pull away in the contest. Following two more Bothwell free throws, which gave the Paladins an eight-point lead, at 47-39, with 15:17 left, Camron McNeil’s triple on the other end brought the Paladin lead back to five, at 47-42, with 12:53 remaining. 

Furman would extend its lead to seven (49-42) following a layup from James Repass, however, two Lewis Djonkam free throws made it a five-point game once again, at 49-44. A three-pointer by Alex Hunter on Furman’s next possession took Furman lead to eight, at 52-44, with 12:08 remaining. Mangum’s three on the other end got the Highlanders’ deficit back to five, however.

The Highlanders would eventually get as close as four, at 54-50, on a Rashun Williams with 10:08 left. A 7-0 run, which was capped by a beautiful driving assist and kick out from Slawson-to-Garrison for a left elbow three increased Furman’s lead back to double digits, at 61-50, with 7:37 left. 

Following a Walker layup, which cut the lead back under 10 for the Highlanders, at 61-52, with 6:23 remaining, the Paladins went ahead by double digits for good when Bothwell canned a triple from the right corner with just under six minutes remaining, pushing the Paladin lead to 12 (64-52) with 5:58 remaining. A Slawson dunk in transition moments later when Radford turned up the pressure took Furman’s lead to 14, at 66-52, with 5:28 left. 

Furman coasted from there, as the Highlanders would never get within 13 points the remainder of the game. 

A look at the stats…

Statistically, Radford held advantages in total rebounds (35-34), second-chance points (16-8) points in the paint (34-28), total assists (19-18) and points off turnovers (17-16). 

The Paladins finished out the contest with advantages in fast-break points (11-4) and bench points (17-16). The Paladins forced 15 Radford turnovers, while committing just 12. 

Furman finished the night connecting on 48.1% (26-of-54) from the field, which included a 47.4% (9-of-19) from three-point range. The Paladins were also impressive from the foul line, going 20-of-22 from the stripe (90.9%). 

Defensively, Furman limited the Highlanders to just 37.5% (24-of-64) from the field, and just 30.8% (8-of-26) from three-point land in the contest.

Postgame:

Jalen Slawson/Conley Garrison

Furman head coach Bob Richey

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