Tyreek Scott-Grayson scored a game-high 26 points to lead Old Dominion to an 82-77 win over Furman in the first consolation semifinal of the Shriners Children’s Charleston Classic Friday afternoon at TD Arena.
With the win, Old Dominion improves to 3-2 on the young season, while Furman fell for the second-straight game to fall to 2-2. The Monarchs will return to action Sunday, taking on Davidson (4-1) at 6 p.m., while Furman will battle Palmetto State rival South Carolina (2-2) for the first time since 2010 in the 10:30 am game Sunday morning.
In similar fashion to Thursday’s opening game against Penn State, Furman got off to a slow start offensively, and a hot-shooting Monarchs took advantage and after a tense opening few moments, were able to create a nice cushion and force the Paladins to chase the game for much of the afternoon.
The Monarchs would lead by as many as 20 points in the second half, as Imo Essien made a pair of free throws to put the Monarchs ahead 67-47 with 8:41 remaining in the contest. For a second-straight day at the Charleston Classic, it looked as if Furman might suffer its first decisive loss to an opponent on the hardwood in quite some time, however, once again, the ‘Dins showed the kind of fight that a quality basketball program should.
Jalen Slawson ignited what would turn out to be a 15-2 run when converted a jump shot to cut the Old Dominion lead to 18. That would be followed by five-straight points from point guard J.P. Pegues, as he got a steal and a dunk in transition, and then following a Monarchs turnover, Pegues connected on a three-pointer on the other end to get the Paladins to within 67-54 with 7:33 remaining. The only points for Old Dominion during the Furman run came off a turnover by the Paladins, as Chaunce Jenkins converted a baby jumper in the lane to take the Monarchs lead back to 15 pts, at 69-54.
A Slawson three-point play the old-fashioned way and a Mike Bothwell three-pointer cut into the Monarchs lead even further, and got Furman to within nine, at 69-60, with 5:45 remaining in the contest. Following a Jenkins turnover, Marcus Foster baby hook just outside the paint got the Paladins even closer, at 69-62, with 5:15 remaining. The Monarchs would finally break the feisty Paladin press on the next possession, as Mehki Long broke free for a dunk to take the Old Dominion lead back to nine.
Bothwell and Scott-Grayson traded basket on the next two possessions, and after Pegues got the Paladins back to within seven on a layup in the paint with 2:20 left, and after the Paladins fouled Ben Stanley, he went to the line and converted 1-of-2 foul shots to give Old Dominion a 74-66 lead with 2:05 remaining. D’Angelo Stines scored his lone two points of the game to take the Monarchs lead back to double digits (76-66) with 1:42 remaining.
Bothwell made a three on Furman’s next possession, but another Stanley dunk in transition made got the Monarchs lead back to nine (78-69) with 1:18 left. Furman would go away, however, as another three in transition—this time by Slawson—got the Paladins back to within six, at 78-72, with 1:07 left. Jenkins made another jumper on the end, and following a Pegues missed three, Ben Stanley was fouled with a chance to extend Old Dominion’s lead to double digits inside the final minute. He connected on 1-of-2 shots from the line, to make it a 81-72 game with 34 seconds remaining.
Pegues would be fouled on the other end, and with the Paladins in the double-bonus, he went to the line for a pair of foul shots. He connected on both shots from the line, getting the Paladins back to within seven with 28 seconds left. Following a Stanley turnover, Pegues got the ball out top and made a high-arching three from deep to get the Paladins to within four, however, that’s as close as Furman would get the rest of the away. Jenkins closed out the Monarchs win by converting 1-of-2 from the line after being fouled by Marcus Foster.
The Monarchs posted 15 assists on 31 made field goals and shot a blistering 64.6% (31-of-48) from the field for the game, including 53.8% (7-of-13) from three-point range, which was contrasted by Furman’s 16 assists on 27 made field goals, as the Paladins finished the contest by connecting on 45.8% (27-of-59) of its shots from the field and connected on 36.4% (12-of-33).
The Monarchs finished the day holding advantages in points in the paint (36-26), second-chance points (6-5), fast-break points (16-13) and bench points (12-5), while Furman held the advantage in points from turnovers (25-14). The Monarchs also held a sizable advantage on the glass, finishing plus-14 on the glass (36-22).
Smith-Grayson was one of four Monarchs in double figures, with his game-high 26 points on 9-of-14 from the field and 2-for-5 from three-point range, while Essien and Stanley added 13 points apiece. Long finished out the Old Dominion players in double figures with 11.
Furman was led by Mike Bothwell for the third-straight game, as he posted his third-straight 20-point scoring performance, finishing with 23 points on 9-of-15 shots from the field and 4-of-7 from three-point range. The senior from Cleveland Heights, OH, also added five assists and two rebounds.
Pegues added a career-high 20 points on 7-of-14 from the field and 4-for-10 from three, and matched Bothwell with five assists and a pair of rebounds. Pegues has strung together a pair of strong performances playing the point for the Paladins.
“Our response today in this game should have been way earlier in my opinion…They [Old Dominion] came out and were the aggressor and they had more energy than us and at the end of the day, they kind of punched us in the mouth a little bit and then we had to respond and in a perfect we want to be the aggressor and throw the first punch, but and I feel like we had to do what we had to do in the second half but in the end it was too little too.”
Pegues has had to make the adjustment to playing the point guard for the first time in his career, and add to that, he is following in the footsteps in one of the best point guards in the history of Furman basketball—Alex Hunter. Pegues is clearly adjusting nicely to his new role as he gets more experience, however, and his confidence has noticeably grown with each start at the point.
“The confidence that the coaches have had in me and my family have played a big part for me and I know this year I have some big shoes to fill behind Alex Hunter a senior guard last year and they have all just kind of given me the confidence and freedom to go be able to make mistakes early and it’s new for me and I didn’t play well my first two games, but as the season goes on and it’s a long season, I feel like I will be all right,” Pegues added.
Rounding out the double-digit scorers for the Paladins were both Slawson and Foster, who posted 15 and 10 points, respectively. The Paladins return to the floor Sunday morning by taking on South Carolina on the final day of the Charleston Classic, with tip-off slated for 10:30 am.
Noting South Carolina:
–The Gamecocks are led by former Chattanooga head coach Lamont Paris, who in almost identical fashion when he assumed the head coaching job at Chattanooga in 2017-18, had to replace nearly an entire roster of players. He had to replace all five starters coming into this season, however, brought in The Citadel all-conference transfer Hayden Brown and also found a way to get the nation’s top overall recruit—6-8 forward G.G. Jackson—to flip his commitment from North Carolina to South Carolina.
–The Gamecocks are 2-2 having dropped back-to-back games in the Charleston Classic to Colorado State (L, 85-53) and Davidson (L, 69-60)
–Furman head coach Bob Richey owns a 7-3 record against Lamont Paris, winning the first seven until Paris’ Mocs won all three last season, including a 64-63 win on David Jean-Baptiste’s buzzer-beater against the Paladins in the SoCon championship last season in Asheville.
–Through two games in Charleston, opponents are connecting on 54.2% (58-of-107) from the floor against the Paladins, while Furman is surrendering an average of 78.5 PPG.
Furman claimed a 91-75 win over South Carolina the last time the two teams met on Dec. 22, 2010 at Timmons Arena.