It's "Paladin Pandemonium" for Furman fans after they down Chattanooga Monday in the SoCon Finals in Asheville , Monday night. A 50 point second half propelled Furman to a 88-79 win over the defending SoCon Champs in a rematch of last year's final. The Paladins were able to erase the bad memory of last year's heartbreaking loss on a buzzer beater and get their retribution.
Dan Scott delivered the call of the game on the Fan Upstate. It's fitting the now longtime time Voice Of The Paladins was able to describe a historical moment in program history.
Furman had a 14-0 run in the 1st half and led by as many as 19, building a 30-11 lead early on. The Mocs answered with a 13-0 run of their own with Furman dealing with 1st half foul trouble. Chattanooga cut to the early lead to three at two different points late in the opening half. Furman's JP Pegues would score on a scoop shot at the 1st half buzzer to give Furman a 38-33 halftime lead.
Furman and Chattanooga would go toe to toe for most of the 2nd half. The Paladins were able to extend the lead to double digits on a few occasions in the 2nd half. However, Chattanooga never went away chipping the lead to as little as four, that would be as close as they would come. Furman would knock down 5 of 6 free throws in the game's final minute to close the door.
Four Paladins were in double figures on the night, SoCon Player Of The Year Jalen Slawson led the way for Furman with 20. JP Pegues had 17 and made plays at key moments in the game. Mike Bothwell added 16 and Alex Williams was a spark off the bench with a dozen. Chattanooga Center Jake Stephens had a game high 25 in the losing effort.
Furman was able to "finish the job" and put an exclamation point on the historical season. They've set a single season program record with 27 wins this year. They also swept the SoCon Regular Season and Tournament Titles for the 1st time since 1980. They'll be making their 1st appearance in the NCAA Tournament since that same year.
Furman will now wait until Sunday's Selection Show to find out who their 1st round opponent will be in next week's NCAA Tournament. Most years in the recent past, the SoCon champ has been a 13 or 14 seed.
Chattanooga was a 13 last year after winning the league tournament and took Illinois to the wire before falling in the final seconds. Regardless, the program is breaking out the dancing shoes for the 1st time in over four decades. Coach Bob Richey becomes the 1st Paladin Coach since Eddie Holbrook to lead the program to these heights.