After the Lady Paladins’ heartbreaking loss to Mercer, hundreds of Furman students, their families and alumni were glued to their TVs in the hopes of compensation for the lost title the next day. On March 7, the Furman Men’s Basketball Team faced the Chattanooga Mogs for the SoCon title, hoping for a one-way ticket to the NCAA Tournament. The Dins tragically lost 63-64 with Chattanooga’s David Jean-Baptiste hitting a wild buzzer-beater game-winning three-pointer over three defenders. Senior Mike Bothwell put in an impressive performance, leading the Dins in points, assists and rebounds. Despite his 24 points from 9/13 from the field (11-straight points in the clutch time), five rebounds, and two assists alongside his step-back three-point jumper with 4.3 seconds left in regulation, the Dins fell short against Chattanooga in the overtime.
Although David Jean-Baptiste became the toast of the town at Chattanooga with a miraculous game-winner jumper, an honorable mention for the Mogs goes to Silvio De Sousa. Double-doubling with 17 points and 14 rebounds, the senior forward shot 70% from the field while grabbing six offensive boards.
Stepping on the court to end Furman’s 41-year championship drought, the Dins were runners-up for the Southern Conference right behind Chattanooga in the regular season. No different than the Women’s Basketball Championship battle, this game started out as an old-school defensive dogfight. As Furman held the lead 12-7 with 10 minutes and seven seconds left in the first half, the scoring burden was carried somewhat equally by Conley Garrison, Jalen Slawson and Marcus Foster. Note that Furman tends to run the offense through Mike Bothwell, Jalen Slawson and Alex Hunter– a.k.a. the “Senior Big 3.” That is why we kept our eyes peeled for our Senior Big 3 to step up, and that is where Alex Hunter, Furman’s all-time three-point leader, came into play with two consecutive three-pointers. The Dins reaped the benefits of their effort on the defensive end and were up 26-16 by halftime.
Holding the regular season SoCon winners down to 16 points in the first twenty minutes? That sounds like the recipe for the crown to me! Well, at least that is what ran through my head at halftime. Coming out of the locker room strong, Chattanooga reclaimed the lead 28-29 with 14 minutes and 49 seconds left on the clock. Although the Mogs extended their lead to 8 points heading into the last nine minutes, the Dins reacted well as SoCon All-Tournament First Team guard Mike Bothwell showcased his offensive skills at the end of regulation alongside the overtime. By the end of the night, our Dins were all over ESPN’s Sports Center- sadly, not for the automatic berth into March Madness. Taking the inbounds pass and dribbling across the half-court, Chattanooga’s David-Jean Baptiste pulled up a miraculous game-winner three-pointer, pushing Furman out of March Madness.