Furman hit 24 free throws, including 10 of its last 13, and out-rebounded the Blue Hose 50-29 to pull away from the Presbyterian College men’s basketball team late in the second half, taking the 63-53 win in the season-opener for both teams Friday night at Timmons Arena.
PC, which opens the season 0-1, returns to Clinton Monday, Nov. 16, for a 7 p.m., contest against USC Upstate. Furman improves to 1-0 and is next in action at Appalachian State Nov. 17, at 7 p.m.
PC shot the ball fairly well, going 22-for-53 from the floor for 41.5%. Furman hit 34.6%, but connected on 24-of-39 free throws, compared to just five-of-13 for the Blue Hose. The Paladins pulled down 22 offensive rebounds, resulting in a 22-10 advantage in second-chance points. Turnovers were even at 14-14, with PC hitting one more three-pointer, 4-3.
DeSean Murray led the Blue Hose on the floor with 18 points, followed by Markus Terry with 10. John Majors, II opened the season with a team-leading seven rebounds, with Venables pulling down six as PC ended the night with 29 total.
Matt Rafferty led Furman with 17 points and 10 rebounds, followed by Kris Acox with 11 points and 10 boards.
A close battle in the first half neither team was able to gain a foothold, the largest lead by each team only five at any given time. Down by one with 12:50 left on the clock PC scored six straight, four coming from Murray, to build a quick 15-10 lead at the 11:09 mark. Down 15-13 at 9:59, the Paladins went on a 7-2 run to go up by five, 22-17, with 3:42 to go in the half. The Blue Hose tied it up at 24-24 off a Davon Bell lay-up before Furman scored the next three off free throws to go into the locker room leading 27-24.
After a Muray layup at 15:47 made it a two-point game, 33-35, in favor of the home team, Furman scored eight unanswered, highlighted by six straight from Rafferty, to take its largest lead of the game to that point at 43-33, 11:34 to go.
Trailing by 11 with 09:25 on the clock, Dillard added a free throw, while Majors posted his second basket of the night to cut the lead to eight, 41-49, 8:10 left.
PC kept chipping away at the lead, cutting it to seven, 44-51 at 4:33, off a Murray layup, part of his 18 points on the night.
The Blue Hose did cut it to seven, 49-56, with 3:07 left, off a Terry three-pointer.
The Paladins began hitting their free throws, making 10 of their final 13 to hold back any PC rally, taking the eventual 63-53 win.