By Jake Crouse, Copy Editor
After a perfect three-game road streak, the women’s basketball team fell to both Samford and Mercer at home last week, knocking the team out of a tie for first place in the SoCon. The Paladins sit at an even 11-11 overall this season and 4-3 in the SoCon.
The home stand began Thurs., Jan. 28 versus Samford (14-8, 6-1 SoCon). Both squads went neck and neck in the first half, ending with a two-point Samford advantage. However, a 14-7 third quarter performance by the Bulldogs over the Paladins deepened the differential, one from which Furman could not recover. The game ended 58-45, the lowest scoring performance by the Paladins in SoCon play thus far.
While Furman outrebounded and scored more points in the paint than Samford, the Bulldogs forced 15 turnovers and shot 42.1 percent from the three-point line to keep the Paladins out of the lead. Junior guard Whitney Bunn led the offense with 13 points, and senior forward Holli Wilkins snagged nine rebounds to lead the defensive effort.
Furman started off hot in its next game against Mercer Sat., Jan. 30 in front of a weekend crowd, earning a 19-8 advantage in the first quarter. But Mercer would go 18-5 and 21-10 in the next two quarters and hold off a fourth quarter Paladin comeback to win 61-50.
Turnovers stifled any chance of a Furman victory, with the Paladins forfeiting the ball 22 times. Furman also struggled from the three-point line, making six of 27 attempts (22.7 percent), though the Paladins are the only SoCon team to average more than 30 percent from the three-point line on the season. Sophomore forward Cierra Carter ran the Paladin offense and defense with 16 points and 15 rebounds.
The women’s basketball team is currently tied for fourth with ETSU in the SoCon standings, with an atypical 1-3 record at home and 3-0 record on the road against conference opponents.
The last two games of that undefeated road stretch led Bunn to be named SoCon Player of the Week on Jan. 26. Bunn averaged 29.0 points against Western Carolina and Chattanooga, with a career-high 33-point performance against the Catamounts. She currently sits in fourth place in SoCon scoring (14.5 points per game) and second in assists (5.3 per game).
Furman will travel for its next two games against Chattanooga (Feb. 4) and ETSU (Feb. 6) before returning home for a three-game home stretch.