Furman overwhelms Wofford in Sunday matinee’

Furman sophomore guard JP Pegues scored a career-high 24 points in Furman’s 96-82 win at Wofford Sunday afternoon.

Furman scored its most points on Wofford’s home floor in nearly half a century, as the Paladins claimed their third-straight win in the series with a 96-82 win over the Terriers in Southern Conference action.

The win came exactly a year ago to the day to when the Paladins posted a demonstrative 75-50 win over the Terriers in the Jerry Richardson Indoor Stadium, which accounted for Wofford’s largest home loss in facility history.  The big road win was highlighted by a second half which saw the Paladins come to life with a full offensive onslaught, connecting on 56.7% (17-of-30) from the field, as Furman out-scored the Wofford 52-39 in the latter half after taking just a 44-43 lead into the halftime locker room.

The win saw Furman improve to 15-6 overall and 6-2 in SoCon play, while Wofford fell to 11-10 overall and 3-5 in SoCon play. 

The 96 points in Sunday’s win before a nationally televised was the most points scored on Wofford’s home floor by a Furman team since the Jan. 8, 1970, as the Paladins posted a 109-86 over the Terriers on that occasion. Furman’s back-to-back wins in Spartanburg marks the first time since the 2002-03 and 2003-04 seasons that the Paladins have claimed back-to-back wins over the Terriers in the Hub City. 

Furman placed five in double figures in Sunday’s win, and it also marked the third time the Paladins have scored 90 or more points in a Southern Conference game this season, having won all three. The Paladins also improved to 83-9 when scoring 77 or more points in a game during the Bob Richey era. 

The Paladins got a career-high 24 points and eight rebounds from point guard JP Pegues, who has played some solid games previously in his career as a Paladin against Wofford and on Sunday, connected on 8-of-17 shots from the field and connected on 4-for-9 from three-point range, as well as going a perfect 4-for-4 from the free throw line. Pegues also added four assists, which also led the team. 

Mike Bothwell, who is a leading candidate for SoCon Player of the Year, added 20 points, as did Alex Williams, as his 20 points represented a new scoring high. Bothwell did most of his damage from the charity stripe in the win, connecting on 13-of-14 from the line, posting a 20-point scoring effort for the 10th time this season, as well as for the third-straight game and for a fourth game in the Paladins’ eight SoCon games thus far. In addition to his 13-of-14 effort from the line, he also went 3-for-7 from the field, including 1-of-2 from three. He also added three rebounds and an assist. 

Williams posted his 20 on 7-of-11 from the field and 4-for-8 from long-range, while also connecting on both of his foul shots. Additionally, the talented sophomore from Cincinnati also finished with five rebounds and had one steal. 

Rounding out the double figure scorers for the Paladins was Ben VanderWal, who finished with his first-ever double double, posting 11 points and a career-high 11 boards. VanderWal finished 5-of-9 from the field and 1-of-4 from three-point land. In the absence of Garrett Hien, who left the game early and didn’t return with an apparent concussion, and with Tyrese Hughey missing the contest due to illness, VanderWal and Williams helped pick up the short-handed Paladins by combining for 31 points and 16 rebounds off the Paladin bench. 

Furman super senior Jalen Slawson was huge in the second half before eventually fouling out of the contest, as he scored 14 of his 17 total points in the second half, with several highlight-reel dunks along the way. He finished the afternoon by connecting on 7-of-10 shots from the field and was 3-for-6 from the charity stripe. He also finished with three assists, three rebounds and blocked a shot.

Wofford finished the contest with two players in double figures, as both freshman Jackson Paveltzke and senior BJ Mack combined for 46 points, with the freshman finishing with a game-high 25 points and the senior adding 21. Paveletzke finished connecting on 9-of-14 shots from the field, including going 1-for-3 from long-range and was a perfect 6-for-6 from the charity stripe. Paveletzke also dished out three assists.

Mack completed his afternoon by connecting on 9-of-15 shots from the field and was 3-of-7 from three-point land and added a rebound and a steal to Wofford’s overall cause in the win. 

Furman finished the contest connecting on connecting on 50% (31-of-62) from the field, while Wofford made 49.2% (31-of-63) of its shots from the field. The Paladins knocked down 35.5% (11-of-31) from three-point land, while the Terriers connected on 38.1% (8-of-21) from downtown. Rounding out the shooting totals, the Paladins finished 79.3% (23-of-29) from the charity stripe, while the Terriers made 70.6% (12-of-17) from the line.

Furman finished holding advantages in bench scoring (31-15), fast-break points (4-2), total rebounds (42-30), offensive rebounds (13-7), and second-chance scoring (21-8), while Wofford held the slight advantage in points in the paint (44-38). Both teams ended the contest with a total of 10 assists. 

Making the win especially impressive is the fact that Furman played nearly the whole game without two of its post men, with one of those, Hien, being a starter. Furman’s ability to dictate the battle of the boards, thanks in large part career high rebounding efforts from both Pegues and VanderWal were two major keys in Sunday’s road win–the Paladins fifth true road victory of the season.

“Garrett took a big hit early and we basically played the game with one post man, and we knew we had to help him out and everybody just had to raise the stakes and had to step up,” Furman sophomore point guard J.P. Pegues said.

Furman seemingly also did it when it needed to on Sunday. It seemed that in big moments and with Wofford making a charge back after Furman created a little bit of a cushion, whether it be a layup or dunk in transition, or a timely three, the Paladins seemingly had the answer all afternoon before a boisterous crowd of nearly 3,000 fans on-hand at the Jerry Richardson Indoor Stadium.

“We did a great job of staying together and not breaking,” Furman freshman forward Ben VanderWal said of Furman’s adversity after being two players down vs. Wofford early.

“Even when things really didn’t go our way we really stuck together as a team and it’s all about making that play…the offensive rebounds, the diving for loose balls…the charges…those swing the tide…those change the energy of the game and that’s what we want and we track ‘energy given behaviors’ and we want to bring as much energy to this game as we can,” VanderWal added.

Upon observation of Sunday’s offensive showcase, it wouldn’t take a casual observer or even a novice of the game too long to recognize one of the keys being transition runouts and baskets off of Wofford made field goals in transition being a major key for head coach Bob Richey’s team. It was particularly noticeable in Furman’s big men…Jalen Slawson, Alex Williams and Ben VanderWal, as well as the recognition of guards JP Pegues and Carter Whitt to find one of those aforementioned players in stride with pin-point accuracy.

“It just puts stress on the rim,” head coach Bob Richey said of his big men running the floor seemingly all afternoon.

“At the end of the day, we’re always trying to put pressure on the rim…whether that be through the cut or whether that be from running the floor or whether that be off the bounce and I think one of the big keys to the game…I think we were up four and we threw it over the top to Slawson and then he got two huge drives late and got the and-one right there late to put us up eight and I feel like that play…when they score and we throw it over the top to Slawson or that play when they score and we throw it ahead to Ben [VanderWal] and we put it off the board and we score that…those are just demoralizing plays,” head coach Bob Richey added.

How it Happened: 

Wofford got out to a strong start in the rivalry matchup with Furman, as the Terriers scored the first eight points of the contest and led 8-0 before the first media timeout and carried that into first media timeout. 

Furman’s first basket would come from Alex Williams off an offensive put-back to make it an 8-2 game and stop the bleeding momentarily.Kyler Filewich converted a layup to make it 10-2 Terriers. After an offensive foul on Wofford’s BJ Mack, Furman used a pair of Mike Bothwell charity shots to cut the Wofford lead to six and a Williams triple got the Paladins to within three.

After a flagrant foul was whistled against Wofford’s Messiah Jones, as he caught Furman’s Garrett Hien with an elbow, Jalen Slawson went to the line and knocked down 1-of-2 free throws to make it a 10-8 game and following a Paladin stop, Bothwell gave the Paladins their first lead at 11-10 with a top-of-the-key three. The Paladins would finish the 20-3 run with a JP Pegues triple, prompting a Wofford timeout and the Paladins leading 20-11 with 11:43 remaining in the half. 

Late in the half and with Furman leading 32-29, Chase Martin canned a three from the corner and was fouled by Mike Bothwell with 4:10 remaining in the half to give the Terriers the lead, 33-32, and after Pegues missed on one end, he would commit a foul on the other, as Jackson Paveletzke connected on a layup, increasing Wofford’s lead to 36-32 following the foul shot. 

Furman closed the half with a 12-7 run and took a narrow 44-43 lead to the break, with Mike Bothwell and JP Pegues combining for 28 of the Paladins’ 44 points in the opening 20 minutes. Bothwell did most of his damage in the opening half from the charity stripe, having gone 7-of-8 from the stripe. Pegues did a majority of his damage from three-point land, connecting on 4-of-7 shots from long distance. 

Threes by Jackson Sivills and Paveletzke as well as a three-point play the old-fashioned way saw the Terriers out-score Furman 9-0 in the opening two-and-a-half minutes of the second half, giving the Terriers and early eight-point, 52-44, lead in the second stanza. 

Off the timeout, Slawson responded with a strong two-handed stuff, and after a Mack missed three, Pegues found VanderWal cutting on a break for a layup to make it a four-point game. Mack then connected on a left elbow triple which was matched by a three from the same spot on the other end by Marcus Foster, and the Paladins trailed 55-51 less than five minutes into the second half. 

Furman used a 9-3 spurt to regain the lead, as VanderWal hit a three, and converted a layup, while Pegues also added a layup. Wofford got a triple from Carson McCorkle during the Paladin spurt, as Furman held a 60-58 lead with just under 12 to play. 

A 13-2 Furman run gave the Paladins a double-digit lead, as Alex Williams connected on his second three during the run to stake the Paladins to a 73-62 lead with just over eight minutes left, however, Paveletzke answered with a bank shot off the right side of the lane got it back under double digits for the Terriers, at 73-64. A McCorkle three got Wofford to within six with 7:18 left, but Bothwell answered with a bucket in the paint.

The back-and-forth battle continued, as Paveletzke answered with a short baseline jumper, which banked off the glass from the right side to get the margin back to six, but Furman got a quick run-out and on the other end, Slawson connected on a half-hook shot off the right side to get the lead back to eight, at 77-69. 

Paveletzke’s top of the key jumper cut the Terrier deficit to exactly six with six remaining, at 77-71, and then after a VanderWal missed three on the other end, the Terriers would get even a little closer, cutting the Furman lead to four when Mack knocked down a fade-a-away jumper from the left baseline to make it a 77-73 contest with just over five minutes left.

Furman, however, would score the next four points on a Slawson two-handed dunk in transition following the Mack make, and then Corey Tripp missed a layup for the Terriers, Slawson took it strong to the basket once again and slammed it home with two hands and was fouled by Messiah Jones in the process. Slawson’s foul shot gave the Paladins an 82-73 lead with 4:31 remaining. 

Following a McCorkle missed jumper in the paint, VanderWal ripped down one of his 11 boards and he found Williams at the top of the key, and the sophomore connected on a fade-a-way jumper to make it a double-digit lead for the ‘Dins, at 84-73 with just under four remaining.

Furman would extend their lead to their largest of the day following a Kyler Filewich missed foul shot and subsequent turnover by Jackson Sivillis following an offensive rebound, as Pegues came up with the steal and found a streaking VanderWal, who missed his initial layup attempt, however, followed his own miss and followed it up with a successful layup to make it an 86-73 contest with 3:20 left. 

Wofford cut the Paladin lead to 10 three times inside the final three minutes, with the latest coming when Paveletzke’s layup in the paint made it a 92-82 game with 1:22 remaining, however, the Terriers could not get any closer, as Pegues and Williams finished out Furman’s scoring going 4-for-4 over the final 82 seconds of the game to close out the Paladins’ 96-point scoring effort and provided the final margin of 14. 

Furman will return to action Wednesday night, welcoming red-hot Samford to Timmons Arena for a 7 p.m. EST contest. The Bulldogs have won eight-straight and are a perfect 8-0 in SoCon action. The Bulldogs and Paladins met in a thrilling SoCon semifinal contest last March, with Furman claiming a narrow 71-68 semifinal win over the Bulldogs to advance to Monday night’s SoCon championship game in Asheville. The Paladins claimed two out of the three meetings between the two last season.

Wofford will return to the hardwood with a game on the road at Chattanooga Wednesday night, with tip-off at the Roundhouse slated for 7 p.m.

Postgame Interviews/Audio

Furman head coach Bob Richey
Furman freshman forward Ben VanderWal
Furman sophomore guard JP Pegues

Published by soconjohn

I am a lover of all things SoCon, and I have had a passion to write about, follow and tell the world about this great conference for pretty much my entire life. While I do love the SoCon, and live in the SoCon city, which is home to the Furman Paladins, have a passion for sports in general, with college football and college hoops topping the list.

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