Furman wins wild OT game vs CofC

Furman guard Mike Bothwell/photo courtesy of Furman athletics

Furman tops CofC in another wild overtime finish

We’re exactly eight games into the 2021-22 basketball season, and half of them have gone to overtime, but the only real change in Friday night’s clash with in-state rival College of Charleston is that this time, the overtime game came on Furman’s home floor at Timmons Arena, and what transpired over 40 minutes of basketball is one to the best games to have ever taken place in terms of drama inside a facility that is now in its 23rd overall season of use. 

Without Furman senior guard Mike Bothwell this week, it’s easy to make the assumption the Paladins would be sitting at 4-4 through the first eight games, with some questions to be answered as the 2021-22 season moved forward. 

That’s only partly true. It’s true Bothwell had a lot to do with allowing Furman to have those opportunities to win two games this week, but he’d be the first to tell you that those situations he was in were only a byproduct of the work his teammates were able to do to get him in that position. That’s also true. 

While some questions remain to be answered about this 2021-22 Furman basketball team, one that seemingly the Paladins have answered time and time again this season has been that they will finish strong, and Friday night’s 91-88 win was a testament to how Furman answered the bell time and time again early on this season.

The win saw Furman improve to 6-2 overall, while Charleston fell to 5-3 on the young season. 

The Paladins trailed by as many as 15 points in the second half, but used career-high performances from Jalen Slawson (33 pts, 13 rebs) and Alex Hunter (25 pts, 2 assists, 2 steals), and a clutch three-pointer from Mike Bothwell (19 pts, 2 blks, 2 steals) for his only points from the field of the second half helped send the game into overtime before the Paladins outscored the Cougars 13-10 in overtime to help the Paladins notch their sixth win of the season.

In addition to his career high points total, Slawson’s 13 rebounds for the game helped him notch his third double-double of the season. He finished the contest by connecting on 9-of-17 from the field and 13-for-18 from the free throw line. 

Slawson, who was SoCon’s leader in shot blocks leader coming into the contest, added two blocks, as well as dishing out three assists and added a steal. The Summerville, S.C. native also went 2-of-4 from three-point land in the win. 

Much like he had done the entire night, Slawson showed tremendous leadership in the second half and especially in overtime. After scoring 11 points in the opening 20 minutes, Slawson would score 22 points in the second half in overtime. He was responsible for seven of Furman’s 13 total points in the extra frame. 

Hunter’s career-high 25 points eclipsed his career-high 23 points established just last week at USC Upstate. The senior from Raleigh, N.C., completed the contest by connecting on 8-of-15 shots from the field, including 5-of-11 from three-point land. 

Hunter was a perfect 4-for-4 from the line, which included the final two points of the game to give the Paladins a three-point lead with 11 seconds remaining. 

In addition to his scoring efforts, Hunter had a pair of assists, but an uncharacteristic four turnovers. He also added a pair of steals and two boards. 

Bothwell finished his night with 19 points, hitting 5-of-11 shots from the field, including going 2-for-4 from three-point land. Bothwell also came up big from the charity stripe all night, going 7-for-9 for the game. 

All told, Furman’s senior trio finished the night posting 77 of the team’s 91 points, but perhaps the most important player in the Paladins’ win over College of Charleston was sophomore guard Joe Anderson, who changed the entire energy of the game.

Inserted into the lineup with 12:25 remaining and the Paladins trailing the contest by 15, at 61-46, things didn’t look good for the hometown team. Everything was going the way of the visitors from the Low Country. 

However, if Friday night’s contest taught us or reminded of us of anything, it reminded us never to underestimate the human heart and the element of being ready for the opportunity when it comes in anything in life. It’s often in these moments more than the sport you are watching…It’s often a moral to someone’s story.

That story on this night was Joe Anderson. He hadn’t entered a basketball game for the Paladins since the Louisville win back on Nov. 12. In other words, he hadn’t seen live action in a game in three weeks. He made the most of his time on the floor. He earned every second of it. A point not lost on Richey or his players in the postgame press conference. 

Just 20 seconds after he entered the lineup, Anderson knocked the ball away from Charleston’s Ben Burnham, and in that small moment, the game turned, as Furman turned that steal into a Garrett Hien layup. 

It was hard to notice if you weren’t there, but as the game wore on, Anderson’s presence on the floor became more and more palpable, and his teammates, often with smiles on their face, knew exactly what was taking place. 

Anderson would go on to see the court for exactly 17:17 minutes of court action, and finished with five steals. In the second half and overtime, the Paladins would force 15 Charleston turnovers, and was a big reason why Furman finished with a 26-15 advantage in points off turnovers.

Offensively, Anderson finished the night going 1-for-3 from the field and finished with two points. Anderson’s fourth steal of the night off a Charleston inbounds pass led to a pass to Bothwell, who finished off the game with a 25-foot, double-clutch three-pointer that banked in with 1.2 seconds left to tie the game, 78-78, which allowed Furman enough time to grab an improbable win. 

Charleston was led individually by Australian-born Reyne Smith, who had a near flawless night shooting the basketball, as the Cougar guard finished the night with 24 points on 6-of-9 shooting from three-point land and was a perfect 6-for-6 from the stripe. He also added two rebounds and assist.

Williams was joined in double figures for the Cougars by senior guard Dimtrius Underwood (15 pts, 9 rebs) and grad transfer John Meeks (14 pts). Fah’Mir Ali and Nick Farrar added 10 points apiece to round out the five in double figures for the Cougars.

Furman finished the night posting an advantages in points off turnovers (26-15) and total steals (14-8), while Charleston fashioned statistical wins in total rebounds (40-35), second-chance points (13-7), points in the paint (36-30), total assists (14-12), fast-break points (6-0), and bench scoring (25-5). 

For the game, Furman was able to connect 43.5% (27-of-62) from the field, including 34.5% (10-of-29) from three-point range. The Paladins finished the contest connecting on 69.2% (27-of-39).

The Cougars connected on 50.8% (32-of-63) from the field, including 41.7% from three (10-of-24). The Cougars were 82.4% (14-of-17) from the charity stripe.

How It Happened:

Mike Bothwell’s 25-foot, double-clutch three-pointer from the top of the key banked in with 1.2 seconds remaining, tying the game for the first time since the 10:55 mark of the opening half, and allowed Furman to force overtime with the game tied, 78-78.

Making Bothwell’s shot even more remarkable is the fact that the Paladins trailed by 15 points twice in the second half, with the second of those two 15-point deficits coming with just over 12 minutes remaining, as the Paladins trailed the contest, 61-46. 

Furman chipped away at the lead the rest of the way. The Paladins battled to cut the margin to eight with 6:37 remaining on a jumper in the paint from Jalen Slawson. From there, the Paladins would hold the deficit to 6-8 points over the next 5:10 on the game clock until cutting the deficit to five points (76-71) following a Bothwell block/steal, and Slawson’s 11th of 13 drawn fouls with 1:27 remaining.

Slawson went to the line for two shots following the infraction committed in the act of shooting by John Meeks, and connected on 1-of-2 shots from the stripe. The foul was Meeks’ fifth, as he was disqualified after scoring all 14 of his points in the opening half of play. 

After Underwood missed a three from the left elbow, Hunter grabbed the rebound with just under a minute remaining and the ball found its way to Slawson again, and again he was fouled with 45 seconds remaining. 

He again went 1-for-2 from the line cutting the Cougars’ lead to four (76-72), however, Slawson came up with his own rebound and the ball found its way to Joe Anderson, who missed a three-pointer, forcing Bothwell to give a foul, and Underwood went to the line and connected on both shots to take the CofC lead to six (78-72) with  24 seconds left. 

Hunter knocked down a three on the ensuing possession for the Paladins, and then Anderson would steal the inbounds pass, but this time Hunter’s three was no good to tie the game, however, on the rebound Underwood rebounded the basketball, but tumbled to the floor, which caused him to travel, giving the Paladins one final chance on an inbounds pass with 10 seconds remaining.

From there, Furman couldn’t initially find the right spacing for a good look at a three, and with the ball in his hands and time winding down, Anderson found Bothwell, who was defended well by two Charleston defenders about 25 feet from the bucket, he pivoted, pivoted again and then on his third pivot, launched a three that caromed in off the glass with 1.2 seconds remaining. The game was going to overtime, tied 78-78.

Charleston wouldn’t go away, however, scoring four of the first five points in overtime to take an 82-81 lead on a Nick Farrar jumper in the lane with 3:32 left. Slawson responded with a layup on the other end to help Furman re-take the lead, 83-82, with 3:19 remaining. An Underwood layup in transition allowed the Cougars to take an 84-83 lead with 2:14 remaining, however, it would mark the final lead CofC would hold in the game. 

A pair of Bothwell made foul shots were followed by a missed three-pointer from Farrar and rebounded by Conley Garrison. The ball found its way to Slawson in the lane again, and he spun one way, and then the other before converting the bucket in the lane to give the Paladins an 87-84 lead with 47 seconds left. 

Bothwell gave Furman a two possession lead 20 seconds later, as the Paladins increased their lead to 89-85  before Reyne Williams’ sixth three pointer of the night brought the Cougars to within one (89-88) with 14 seconds left. 

Hunter was then immediately fouled on the inbounds pass with 11 seconds left, Ali’s three from the corner as time expired was no good, as Furman held on for the miraculous win. 

In overtime, Furman came out victorious for the third time this season, connecting on all three shots from the field, and went 7-for-10 from the charity stripe in the extra session to polish off a remarkable 91-88 win. 

Game Highlights:

Postgame Press Conference:

Jalen Slawson/Mike Bothwell
Head coach Bob Richey

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