By Carter Hunt, Staff Writer
Furman and Wofford were going back and forth all game, but just when the Terriers seemed out of reach, with the Paladins down by a point and six seconds to run the court, the unthinkable happened.
With the final ticks of the clock winding down in regulation, sophomore guard Devin Sibley drove the ball down the right side of the paint to attempt a contested layup to win the game. Sibley’s attempt ricocheted off the front of the iron only to be followed up off the glass by senior guard Stephen Croone, who redirected the ball in to secure not only the 63-62 victory but the first win over Wofford for Furman in seven meetings.
The game-winning tip-in was the final play of a masterful comeback for the Paladins. With only four minutes left on the clock, the Paladins were facing a 60-52 deficit. Stellar defense kept Wofford cold while the Furman offense, led by Croone, slowly chipped away at the lead, with an 11-2 run to finish the game. Croone scored nine of the Paladins last 11 points.
A late game shot block by Sibley and two free throws by Croone put the Paladins on top 61-60 before Wofford converted on a layup and took what looked like the game winning lead with six seconds remaining.
Following a timeout, Croone inbounded the ball to Sibley who dribbled up the court, looking to get it back in Croone’s hands for the final shot. But the Terriers denied Croone the ball, forcing Sibley to drive to the basket. The rest is history.
The victory over the Terriers extended Furman’s home win streak to five, putting the Paladins at 10-10 overall on the season and 4-3 in conference play.
Offensively, Croone has led the Paladins in points for the season, averaging just over 16 a game. On the glass, freshman forward Matt Rafferty has gotten Furman the ball, taking almost seven rebounds a game.
While Rafferty and Croone are three years apart, they are both striving for the same goal – to bring the SoCon championship back to Greenville for the first time since 1980. The Paladins lost to Wofford in the SoCon championship game last season and are looking to take that final step this year.
The Paladins currently sit in fourth place in the SoCon conference standings with 11 conference games still remaining.
Furman travels next to Lexington, Va. to battle Virginia Military Institute Jan. 25 before returning home to take on Western Carolina Jan. 28.