Furman has its eight-game winning streak halted by The Citadel

For the first time since mid-January, Furman tasted defeat on the college basketball hardwood, with the loss coming to its bitterest of rivals, as The Citadel knocked off the Paladins for the first time since February of 2018, downing the ‘Dins, 69-65, in Southern Conference action Wednesday night at McAlister Field House. 

The win sees The Citadel snap what had been a six-game losing streak, as the Bulldogs improve to 10-18 overall and 5-10 in SoCon play.

Meanwhile, Furman falls to 21-7 overall and 12-3 in Southern Conference play. With Samford’s 83-71 home win over UNC Greensboro, the Paladins now are locked in a tie for second place in the Southern Conference standings with UNCG, while Samford takes over sole possession of first place.

Furman has games against East Tennessee State (Feb. 19) and Mercer (Feb. 22) before finishing out the regular season with a trip to face Samford in Birmingham. The Samford Bulldogs win over the Spartans Wednesday night marked their fourth-straight over UNCG and was their 15th-straight win over a Southern Conference opponent at the Pete Hanna Center.  

The 65 points scored by the Paladins in a loss was their lowest total in Southern Conference play, and lowest total since scoring 65 points in a 65-61 win at Appalachian State earlier this season. It marked The Citadel’s first win over Furman since Feb. 1, 2018, as the Bulldogs claimed what was a 100-92 overtime win over the Paladins in that contest.  

It snapped what was a streak of nine-straight wins in the series for the Paladins over the Bulldogs. The Paladins lost for just the second time this season when holding the lead at halftime, as the Paladins went to the lead with a 36-34 lead at the half, however, would get out-scored 35-29 in the second half in the loss. The Paladins had nine turnovers in the second half alone, while recording just seven assists. The only other time the Paladins have lost a game when leading at the half this season came against The Citadel, as the Paladins held what was a 34-32 lead in that game back on Dec. 31.  

The Paladins finished the night connecting on 43.6% (24-of-55) from the field, while posting what was just 32.1% (9-of-28) from long-range. Furman, who shot all 13 of its free throws in the second half, connected on just eight of those foul shots and connected on just 61.5% (8-of-13) from the line.  

Meanwhile, The Citadel finished the contest making 46.6% (27-of-58) and 27.8% (5-of-18) from three-point range, while shooting an impressive 83.3% (10-of-12) from the free throw line. The game featured six lead changes and was tied on nine occasions.  

Summerville, S.C., native Jalen Slawson led all scorers with 22 points, while adding five rebounds, two assists, two steals and blocked two shots. He finished the contest by connecting on 6-of-13 shots from the field and went 3-for-5 from long range. He was also 7-of-8 from the charity stripe.  

Slawson was joined in double figures for the Paladins by Garrett Hien, who added 11 points, seven rebounds and two blocks, while J.P. Pegues finished with 10 points, five assists and three rebounds.  

Senior guard Mike Bothwell, who posted a game-high 27 points in the first meeting with the Bulldogs back in early January, finished the contest with just five points on just 2-for-5 shooting from the field and was 1-of-2 from three-point range.  

The Citadel finished the game with four in double figures, and for the second-straight game in the series this season, was led by Stephen Clark, who put up all-conference numbers. He finished with 21 points, seven rebounds, blocked four shots, posted four steals and dished out a pair of steals in leading the Bulldogs to the memorable win. His performance was reminiscent of the one delivered by Zane Najdawi the last time the Bulldogs topped the Paladins on the hardwood back in February of 2018.  

In that game five years ago, Najdawi posted 28 points, 10 rebounds and blocked three shots. Clark finished the 2023 Bulldogs win by connecting on 10-of-19 shots from the field, including 1-of-3 from long range. With his 21-point effort against the Paladins, Clark also inched closer to 1,000 points in his Bulldog career, and now has 992 points for The Citadel. With just eight points on Saturday vs. Wofford, he will cross the 1,000-point threshold for his Bulldog career.  

Joining Clark in double figures in the Bulldogs win were Austin Ash (12 pts), Elijah Morgan (11 pts), and Brady Spence had the game of his career with the Bulldogs, posting a double-double of 10 points and 12 rebounds, notching his first-career double-double as a Bulldogs player.  

The Citadel finished the night owning advantages in points in the paint (40-28), second-chance point (14-9), points off turnovers (14-2) and bench points (11-10). The Paladins finished with advantages in total assists (17-8) and fast-break points (6-5). The two teams tied in total rebounds (33-33). The Bulldogs swatted away eight Paladin shots 

How It Happened: 

For the second-straight game, Furman came out of the gates with good focus and ready to play, as the Paladins assumed a 14-8 lead after connecting on its first six shots from the field and assumed the eight-point advantage heading into the first media timeout courtesy of a Marcus Foster triple.  

It would be only one of two shots that Foster would make the entire night, as he finished 2-for-10 from the field, which included a 2-for-9 performance from three-point land, as he finished the contest with just six points. Foster has normally responded with a strong performance the next time out, and he did have an impressive team-leading 18 points vs East Tennessee State in Furman’s 70-56 win last month against the Bucs, and that will be something to keep an eye on Sunday when Furman battles ETSU in Greenville.   

Following Furman’s flurry to open the game, The Citadel settled in and slowed the pace to their liking, defending with passion. The Bulldogs would score the next seven points to take their first lead of the night, as it would be capped by an AJ Smith layup in the paint to give the Bulldogs a 15-14 lead with 13:04 remaining in the opening half.  

After Carter Whitt’s three gave the Paladin lead back by two, Stephen Clark’s layup forced the second of six ties in the opening half of play with his layup on the other end forged a 17-17 score with just under 12 minutes remaining in the half. 

With the game tied 25-25, following a another Smith layup with 5:38 remaining in the half, it looked as though the Paladins might be ready to take control of the game, as the Paladins scored seven-straight points on a jumper by Slawson, a three-pointer by Alex Williams and an offensive rebound and put-back by Ben VanderWal as the Paladins assumed their largest lead of the night, at 32-25, with 3:41 remaining in the half. 

The Bulldogs responded just 20 seconds later with a huge three-pointer by Austin Ash, and then after a missed triple by Foster and rebound by The Citadel freshman guard Madison Durr, it would lead to a Clark layup on the other end, as The Citadel trimmed the Furman lead to just two, at 32-30, with just over two minutes left in the first half. The Bulldogs would remain within two the remainder of the opening frame, and Alex Williams’ layup with three seconds remaining saw Furman head to the half with the 36-34 lead. 

In the second half, the Paladins threatened to take control of the game once again, leading 52-47 following a streak of seven-straight Slawson points, following a pair of three-pointers and a free throw with 11 minutes remaining. However, instead it would be a resounding response by The Citadel, as the Bulldogs went on a 7-0 run, which started with a contested jumper by Elijah Morgan and ended with a Clark’s lone triple of the night and just his 11th out of 43 attempts on the season, giving The Citadel a 54-52 lead with 9:19 left. 

Slawson tied the contest at 54-54, drawing a foul from David Maynard on the other end, however, the Bulldogs responded with a dunk by Clark and a steal and layup by Elijah Morgan to take a 58-54 lead with 8:35 remaining in the half. Marcus Foster came up with a three-pointer out of the timeout, trimming the Furmand deficit back to just a point, at 58-57, with 8:17 remaining.  

Scoring points the rest of the way would rival any stretch of the season, which has seen the rare occasion for Furman to encounter offensive struggles, however, it was the Paladins’ effort on the defensive end of the floor that kept them in the contest with a chance to win it in the late stages. Furman had a chance to re-take the lead off a beautifully designed play by the Furman coaching staff off the timeout, however, what appeared to be a clear two points off a layup from JP Pegues saw that design nullified and apparent 59-58 resulting lead erased from behind by Clark, coming up with one of his four swats of the night, with that one being perhaps the most important of them.  

With that momentum changing block, the Bulldogs were able to extend their lead back to three following a layup by Brady Spence on the other end, assuming the 60-57 advantage with 7:21 remaining.  

The next four minutes saw both teams struggle to score, as Furman missed its next four shots from the field, however, a layup by Garrett Hien tied the game, 61-61, with 3:20 left. Another Spence layup was followed by another Clark block on the other end, as he took away an apparent two-point layup by Slawson and after Furman came up with the loose ball, point guard JP Pegues was fouled and went to the line for the one-and-one bonus. After Pegues missed the front end and produced the offensive rebound, Furman turned it over and Clark converted a layup on the other end with 44 seconds left to give The Citadel a two-possession lead, at 65-61, to match their largest lead of the night.  

Furman stayed alive with two offensive rebounds on a pair of misses on the other end, and it would be a desperation three-pointer that got the Paladins within one, at 65-64, with 21.7 seconds remaining, however, that would be as close as the Paladins would get the rest of the way, as Morgan went 4-for-4 from the line down the stretch to help the Bulldogs to easily their biggest win under head coach Ed Conroy, who is in his second stint as the Bulldogs’ head coach.  

The Paladins will look to rebound Sunday when they face East Tennessee State in Greenville for a 6 p.m. contest at Timmons Arena against the Bucs in a game set for a national television audience on ESPNU. The Bulldogs will be at home once again at McAlister Field House to face Wofford Saturday afternoon at 1 p.m.  

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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