Mike Bothwell scored a game high 18 points and Jalen Slawson added a double-double to lead the Furman men’s basketball team to an 81-49 victory over the Samford Bulldogs in its Southern Conference opener, Wednesday evening inside Timmons Arena.
Furman improves to 9-5 overall and 1-0 in the SoCon, while Samford falls to 10-3 on the season and 0-1 in conference play. The Paladins held an opponent to under 50 points in a conference opener for the first time since January 5, 2012 when they defeated The Citadel, 77-45, in Greenville.
Bothwell was one of five Furman players to score in double figures with his game high 18 points and contributed four assists and two steals. Slawson turned in his fifth double-double of the year on 12 points, 10 rebounds, five assists and four steals. Joe Anderson posted a career best 14 points while Conley Garrison contributed 11 points and three assists. Alex Hunter tallied 10 points, four assists and two steals. Garrett Hien had seven points, seven rebounds and two blocks.
With his four assists on Wednesday, Hunter became the fifth player in program history to eclipse 400 career assists. He joins former Paladins Guilherme Da Luz (2001-02), Hal Henderson (1989-92), Ron Smith (1975-78) and Eric Webb (2004-07) as the only players to compile 400 or more assists in their careers.
Bothwell, a senior from Cleveland Heights, Ohio, and Slawson, a senior from Summerville, S.C., combined for 23 points in the first half as Furman limited Samford to just 7-of-31 (22.6 percent) shooting and 3-of-14 (21.4 percent) behind the 3-point line.
The Paladins recorded the game’s first seven points before the Bulldogs answered with a 7-3 run to cut Furman’s lead to 10-7 with 14:15 remaining. Samford would remain within three points at the 11:49 mark when Jermaine Marshall’s triple put the score at 15-12.
The Paladins then outscored the Bulldogs by a total of 33-9 over the final 11:18 of the first half that started with a 21-5 run covering a stretch of 6:07. Furman went from leading 15-12 to holding a 36-17 advantage with 5:42 to go when Anderson connected on a 3-pointer. The Paladins held Samford without a point over the final 2:18 while scoring the last six points. A pair of Bothwell free throws gave Furman a 48-21 lead at halftime.
The Paladins led by at least 30 points for a majority of the second half beginning at the 16:24 mark when Hunter’s 3-pointer made the score 58-26.
Furman took its largest lead of the game at 65-32 with 12:17 remaining when Hien made 1-of-2 free throws. The Paladins held their 33-point lead two more times with the last coming at 70-37 with 9:37 left when Garrison knocked down a 3-pointer.
Neither team scored for nearly three minutes to close out the contest. Tyrese Hughey’s dunk off an Anderson pass with four seconds to go put the final score at 81-49.
Defensively, Furman held the Bulldogs to just 1-of-12 (8.3 percent) behind the 3-point line in the second half.
The Paladins finished the game shooting 40.9 percent (27-of-66) overall and held the advantage in points off turnovers (12-6), points in the paint (26-22) and fast break points (17-4).
Furman rings in the New Year on Saturday, January 1 traveling to Lexington, Va. for a 1 p.m. tipoff against VMI inside Cameron Hall. You can hear every Furman game , all season long on ESPN Upstate.