By Greg Peterson, Contributing Writer
The Furman basketball team suffered a heartbreaking loss to Wofford 77-73 Feb. 20 in a game that had 18 lead changes and eight ties.
Wofford led 76-70 with 17 seconds left in the game when sophomore guard Devin Sibley hit a three-pointer at the top of the key with 10 seconds remaining, making it 76-73. Senior guard Larry Wideman then stole the ball on the ensuing inbound play, but freshman forward Matt Rafferty could not convert the tying three-point shot with four seconds left in the game.
The Paladins had their biggest lead of the game in the first half after a 5-0 run with 8:08 left in the half, resulting in an 18-14 lead. The Terriers would eventually have a 31-28 lead until sophomore forward Geoff Beans would rattle a three-pointer at the buzzer, tying the game 31-31 going into halftime.
Both teams traded baskets for most of the second half until Wofford went on an 8-0 run with 5:09 left in the game. The Paladins cut into the Terriers lead with Southern Conference Player of the Week Stephen Croone’s back-to-back layups, but it just wasn’t enough to regain the lead.
The loss snaps Furman’s three-game winning streak and brings the team to 11-5 in SoCon play and 17-12 overall.
The Paladins then travelled to Johnson City, Tenn. to face ETSU, but a late rally was not enough, as the Paladins lost 80-75, suffering their second-straight defeat.
Furman was plagued by turnovers, having 16 of its 21 total turnovers in the first half. ETSU went on an early 22-5 run with 15:46 left in the first half assisted by nine Paladin turnovers.
The second half would be a completely different story for the Paladins. Furman would cut the lead to two with 9:47 left in the game after sophomore guard John Davis III converted a layup, making it 57-55. ETSU would then lengthen their lead to 14, but the Paladins rallied back, making it a three-point game with 1:39 left after a Sibley three-pointer.
The Paladins would not have enough time to finish their rally, as ETSU would go on and hit clutch free throws in the ending seconds to seal the game.
The Paladins ended the regular season on a low note Saturday night in Cullowhee, N.C., losing 73-62 to Western Carolina University.
Sibley led all scorers with 24 points and junior forward Kris Acox had a double-double with 11 points and 10 rebounds. Furman shot 30 percent from the field compared to the Catamounts 51 percent, and 30 percent from three-point range compared to WCU’s 45 percent.
The Paladins went into halftime with a 28-27 lead after a Croone three-pointer and sharpened their lead into the second half after another Croone three with 18:54 remaining. The Catamounts would then go on an 11-1 run after the basket, and Furman would never regain the lead.
The Catamounts led by as many as seven, but the Paladins battled back and made it a one-point game with a Sibley layup, bring the score to 55-56 with 7:25 left in the game. WCU would then go on a 9-0 run, and the Paladins would never recover.
Despite Furman losing its last three regular season games, the team will be the No. 3 seed in the SoCon Tournament and will play the No. 6 seed at 8:30 p.m. on Sat., March 5, at the U.S. Cellular Center in Asheville, N.C.