Furman makes statement in win over Western Carolina

Furman guard J.P. Pegues scores a career-high 18 points on six triples in Furman’s 88-50 win over Western Carolina Wednesday night

In sports, it’s sometimes difficult to know how a team will respond after a tough loss. For Furman, coming off a 71-69 heartbreaker at league-leading Chattanooga Saturday, the opening minutes of a midweek SoCon midweek test against Western Carolina were tense, and the Catamounts took an 8-7 lead following a three-pointer by Marvin Price with 13 minutes remaining in the half.

It would turn out to be the final lead of the night for the Catamounts, as the Paladins used a 24-2 run to take command of the game, culminating with a J.P. Pegues triple with 3:23 remaining in the half. 

From that point forward, it was all Paladins, and it would result in an 88-50 win over the Catamounts. The 38-point win was Furman’s second 30-plus point triumph in Southern Conference play this season at Timmons Arena this season, opening league play with a 32-point, 81-49, win over Samford to open the Southern Conference play back on Dec. 29. 

The win saw the Paladins improve to 13-7 overall and 5-2 in SoCon play, while the Catamounts dropped to 8-11 overall and 2-4 in Southern Conference action. 

Furman was powered by 21 three-pointers, with 14 of those trifectas coming in the second half. The Paladins knocked down 19 of their final 31 attempts from three-point range in the contest on what was another blistering shooting night for the Paladins from long-range. The Paladins came into the contest ranking fourth in the nation in three-pointers made with 218 made triples entering the contest with the Catamounts, and ended the night with 239 made trifectas. 

Furman also improved to 82-13 at Timmons Arena and 47-6 against Southern Conference competition since the start of the 2015-16 season. The Paladins have also produced an impressive mark of 81-31 against Southern Conference opposition, while having posted 144-69  overall record. Furman also won its 12th-straight in the series against the Catamounts, and improved to 51-29 in the overall series against the Catamounts. 

The Paladins posted three players in double figures, including Birthday boy Mike Bothwell, who paced the Paladins with 26 points, while J.P. Pegues added a career-high 18 points, while Conley Garrison dropped his second double-figure scoring effort in the past three outings, finishing with 12 points.

Bothwell finished 9-of-17 shooting from the field, including 4-of-9 from three-point range and was a perfect 4-for-4 from the charity stripe. The senior from Cleveland Heights, OH., also added three rebounds, three assists, a block and a steal in the win. 

Pegues, a true freshman point guard from Nashville, Tenn., did a majority of his damage from three-point range, as he went 6-for-9 from long-range along with going 6-of-10 overall from the field on the night. Pegues also added four rebounds, three assists and a steal.

Garrison rounded out the double-figure scorers with 12 points on 4-of-7 shooting from the field, including 4-for-6 from three-point land. The grad transfer from Drury University added three assists, a steal, and a rebound to his overall totals in the contest.

Following a 22-point outing at Chattanooga this past Saturday, senior forward Jalen Slawson finished with three points against the Catamounts, but he did it in other areas in the mid-week win over Western Carolina. He posted a team-high 10 rebounds and also added a team-high five assists in 24:58 of floor time.

The Catamounts finished the contest with two players in double figures, with Vonterrius Woolbright leading the way with 14 points on 5-of-12 shooting from the field and was a perfect 4-for-4 from the line. He also led the Catamounts with seven rebounds. The only other Catamount in double figures was Marcus Banks, who finished with 11 points. 

The Paladins finished the night connecting on 45.3% (29-of-64) from the field, which included a 47.7% (21-of-44) shooting effort from three-point land. The 16 points allowed in the opening half against the Catamounts were the lowest point total allowed in a half since holding Western Carolina to 14 points in a half in an 85-37 victory back on Jan. 25, 2017. 

Western Carolina, meanwhile, completed the night connecting on just 34.0% (18-of-53) from the field and connected on just 17.4% (4-of-23) from three-point land. 

Like Furman, the Catamounts entered the contest as one of the most prolific three-point shooting teams in the country, as Western Carolina came in ranking seventh nationally in three-pointers made with 196 made triples, and with its four made triples in Wednesday night’s loss, are now at an even 200 made threes this season. 

Furman finished the contest holding advantages in total rebounds (42-32), total assists (25-9), second-chance points (10-2), points from turnovers (26-12), bench scoring (34-24), and fast-break points (9-8). The Catamounts held a 26-14 advantage in points in the paint.

In Bob Richey’s five seasons as the head coach, the Paladins have connected on 1,442 three-pointers, attempting 4,017, which computes to a percentage of 35.9% during that span. Furman’s 338 made three-pointers during the 2017-18 season are a school single-season record. Furman’s 21 triples on Wednesday night puts the Paladins at 239 three-pointers through 20 games in 2021-22.

How It Happened:

Both teams got off to a bit off a tentative start early on, with defense dictating how things went over the first seven minutes of the game. 

Furman jumped out to 7-2 lead via a three-pointer from Conley Garrison, a Mike Bothwell layup and a pair of free throws from Bothwell with 14:07 remaining in the opening half. The Catamounts responded with back-to-back triples from Marcus Banks and a Marvin Price triple that seemed to hit every part of the rim before falling through the hoop with 13 minutes remaining, giving the Catamounts an 8-7 lead. 

Furman then got four-straight points from Mike Bothwell on a pair of layups, which was followed by a Tyrese Hughey tear-drop jumper, giving the Paladins a quick 5-0 spurt and a 13-8 lead with 9:09 to play in the opening half. It was the only the beginning. 

Following that quick spurt, Furman used five-consecutive three-pointers to basically put the game out of reach, while holding the Catamounts scoreless from the field during a 9:55 span, with Western Carolina’s only points during that stretch coming on a pair of Banks free throws at the 6:53 mark of the opening half.

During Furman’s barrage of six-straight threes, the Paladins got triples from Mike Bothwell, Alex Hunter, while both J.P. Pegues and Joe Anderson hit a pair of threes apiece during the stretch. It all culminated in a 24-2 run and a 31-10 lead for the Paladins with 3:25 remaining in the opening half. 

A Joe Petrakis triple from the left elbow with 3:05 remaining in the half snapped what had been a nearly 10-minute scoring drought for the Catamounts, making it a 31-13 contest. Cam Bacote and Mike Bothwell traded buckets before a Petrakis 1-of-2 performance at the line provided the final point of the half, with the Paladins going to the locker room with a commanding 33-16 lead.

Furman held the Catamounts to just 17.9% (5-of-28) from the field in the opening half, and just 17.6% (3-of-17) from three-point land in the opening half of play.

In the second half, the Paladins would play even better, putting together maybe their two most complete halves of basketball of the season. The Paladins opened the half with a 24-10 run over the first 8:10 of the second half to assume a 57-26 advantage with 11:50 remaining. 

A 31-point lead would grow to 40, at 72-32, following a triple from Alex Hunter five minutes later. With 3:23 remaining, Furman grew its lead to its largest of the evening following a pair of Bothwell foul shots, as Furman took a 44-point lead, at 82-38. The Paladins were able to clear the bench in the final two minutes, with guards Robert Swanson, Rett Lister, and Jaylon Pugh all getting into the game, as well as forwards Ben Beeker and James Repass.  

In the second half alone, the Paladins connected on 51.5% (17-of-33) from the field and a blistering 58.3% (14-of-24) from three-point range. Fourteen of Furman’s 17 field goals in the second half came from long range. 

Post-game Press Conference:

J.P. Pegues and Mike Bothwell
Furman head coach Bob Richey

Up Next:

Furman (13-7, 5-2 SoCon) heads to I-85 rival Wofford (12-7, 4-3 SoCon), as the Paladins go in search of their first win over the Terriers since a 67-66 victory over the Terriers on Feb. 19, 2020 at the Bon Secours Wellness Arena.

The Terriers have claimed seven of the last nine games in the series, and Furman has never won at the Jerry Richardson Indoor Stadium. The last time Furman claimed a win over Wofford in Spartanburg was Jan. 24, 2011, with a 73-68 win at the Benjamin-Johnson Arena. All told, the Paladins have lost 10-straight games at Wofford.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: