The Furman Paladins faced off against the San Diego State Aztecs on Mar. 18 for Round 2 of March Madness with 32 teams remaining. The Furman Paladins emerged from their win against the University of Virginia Cavaliers confident that they could pull off another upset, while the Aztecs, after defeating the College of Charleston Cougars, hoped to maintain their momentum.
In the first half, Furman kept general pace with San Diego State for the beginning but then failed to keep up with the consistent scoring by the Aztecs as the game continued. While some notable shots resulted in three pointers for the Paladins, only 23% of three-pointers attempted were finding their mark. Aztec defense continually prevented successful layups, and the height advantage possessed by many of the SDSU led to multiple blocks on Paladin passes, shots, and layups. This height advantage would also play an important role in rebounds, as by the end of the match the Aztecs accumulated 41 rebounds compared to Furman’s 24. The first half of the game concluded with the Aztecs leading the Paladins 39-25.
The second half saw the Aztecs continually widen their lead, with Furman trailing behind. Notable scorers included Marcus Foster and Alex Williams, but SDSU proved too much for the Paladins to overcome. With 16 seconds left on the clock and the Paladins trailing the Aztecs 75-49, Mike Bothwell made one final defiant three-pointer that concluded the game, ending the score at 75-52 and eliminating the Paladins.
The conclusion of one of the most historic college basketball seasons for Furman was met with overwhelmingly positive emotions from Furman fans, students, and alumni. The achievements of the 2022-2023 college basketball season include winning both the Southern Conference Regular Season and the Southern Conference Tournament alongside entering the March Madness competition for the first time since 1980, pulling an extreme upset against the University of Virginia and winning an NCAA March Madness game for the first time since 1974. These accomplishments are in addition to winning the respect of the entire nation as a basketball team that can compete on a national level. This game concludes the end of Slawson and Bothwell’s five-year-long careers here at Furman, with both holding the record of 113 career wins at Furman, and Bothwell securing over 2,000 career points for Furman.
The Furman Paladins have achieved amazing results this season, making every Furman fan proud to be a Paladin and creating a sense of confidence in future performances by the team. I would also like to say that it has been a tremendous honor to meet such dedicated and talented players and to have the honor of covering such a historic basketball season. Roll Dins forever!