Furman University's Student Newspaper

The Paladin

Furman University's Student Newspaper

The Paladin

Furman University's Student Newspaper

The Paladin

Furman Suffers Tough Road Loss at Western Carolina, 85-77

Western Carolina rode a 55-point second half to push past the Paladins in Furman’s final SoCon road game of the season.
Courtesy of Furman Athletics
Junior guard JP Pegues led the Paladins with a career-high 35 points in the loss to Western Carolina on Wednesday, Feb. 28.

Furman entered the Ramsey Regional Activity Center in Cullowhee, N.C. seeking a regular season sweep of the Western Carolina Catamounts. When the two teams met in January, junior guard JP Pegues hit a clutch 3-pointer with 0.8 seconds on the clock to give the Dins a 65-62 victory.

The game got off to a back and forth start with the Paladins firing up 3-pointers from all over the court. Having shot only one for 10 from beyond the arc, nevertheless, the Dins found themselves succumbing to the growing WCU lead midway through the first half. Pegues settled things down by hitting a three with 2 minutes and 14 seconds to go, making the score 28-29. With under a minute left in the half, Pegues drew contact and went to the free throw line, giving Furman a 32-30 lead at the break.

The story for Furman in the first half was the scoring efficiency from the Dins’ top playmakers. Senior guard Marcus Foster, who had entered the game averaging 17.4 points per game, put up zero in the first half. Likewise, sophomore forward Alex Williams recorded zero first-half points in his second game back after missing the previous three. Williams averages 14.2 points per game and is a reliable 3-point shooter for the Dins.

Furman rose through its ashes at the beginning of the second half. Sophomore forward Ben VanderWal came out and drained back-to-back corner threes to give the Dins a five-point lead. Pegues also caught fire, scoring eight points in a row, including a wild off-balance 3-pointer, leaving the WCU defenders in disbelief.

Unfortunately, a 47-36 Dins lead was the largest it would get before the Catamount onslaught ensued. WCU senior guard Vontarious Woolbright made a living in the paint, displaying his ability on numerous occasions to shake defenders and get to the rim. Alongside Woolbright, senior guard Russell Jones Jr. hit a barrage of 3-pointers, particularly two in a row with 3 minutes remaining to put the Catamounts up by 10.

The Dins fought until the end by fouling WCU, but there were not enough possessions left in the contest for Furman to mount a comeback. With one final Russell Jones Jr. free throw, the game was determined out of reach for the Paladins, capping off a 85-77 WCU victory.

WCU passed Furman in the SoCon standings with this tough loss. Though both teams have the same conference record, WCU holds the tiebreaker. If the season ended today, Furman would have a rematch with the Catamounts in the SoCon tournament quarterfinals. However, one game remains for Furman – a rematch against Mercer at home this Saturday, March 4 on ESPN+ at 2 p.m. With a win, the Paladins will find themselves in the quarterfinal game against either the Catamounts or the Terriers of Wofford College.

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About the Contributor
Jack Quinn
Jack Quinn, Print Designer
Jack is a junior Communications Studies major on the media studies track, and a minor in Visual Strategy. In addition to being the Print Designer for The Paladin Newspaper, he also writes various articles as well. He is a member of the Sigma Chi Fraternity and is a part of the Furman Club Golf team. He enjoys playing and watching college and professional sports, particularly football, basketball, and golf. Jack is from Dallas, Texas but is hoping to stay in the Greenville area post-graduation.
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