Philadelphia, Pa. – Junior Jordan Lyons scored 17 points to pace five Paladins in double figures and senior Matt Rafferty added 15 points and a career-high 17 rebounds to power Furman to a 76-68 overtime victory over eighth-ranked and defending national champion Villanova Saturday night at Finneran Pavilion.
The win improved the Paladins to 5-0 on the season for the first time since 1987-88 and gave Furman, 60-58 winners at Loyola Chicago last Friday, a pair of wins over 2018 NCAA Final Four teams this season.
"I'm so proud of our team and my staff," said Paladin head coach Bob Richey." We stayed connected. We played as a team on offense and on defense. I thought we were the harder playing team tonight."
With Villanova leading 63-62 in overtime, Clay Mounce drained a three to put the Paladins in front and Lyons sliced to the basket for a layup on the next possession to give Furman a 67-63 advantage with 2:45 left. After the Paladins and Wildcats traded a pair of empty possessions, Rafferty drained a fade-away jumper from the left baseline as the shot clock expired to extend the lead to 69-63 with 51.1 seconds to go.
Noah Gurley rebounded a missed Villanova three and Lyons connected on two free throws to push the lead to eight. Villanova' Collin Gillespie drove to the basket and scored to trim the margin back to six points, but Furman converted on 5-of-6 trips to the foul line in the final 27 seconds to put the game away.
Lyons made 6-of-12 shots from the field and all four of his free throw attempts to score his game-high 17 points, while Rafferty also connected on 6-of-12 shots. Rafferty added four blocked shots, three assists and two steals to go with his 15 points and 17 boards. Mounce finished with 15 points and Noah Gurley contributed 13 points, eight boards and four assists.
After Furman led by six points early, Villanova rallied to build a 10-point lead before carrying a 36-31 edge into halftime. The Paladins opened the second half on an 8-0 spurt to grab the lead and neither team led by more than five points the rest of the way.
Furman took a 58-53 advantage on Alex Hunter's jumper with 4:40 to play, but Villanova reeled off seven straight points to grab a 60-58 lead on Gillespie's layup with 1:40 remaining. Lyons drew a foul in the paint and drained both free throws to tie the game with 48 seconds to go. Phil Booth missed a jumper that would have given the Wildcats the lead and Rafferty drew a loose ball foul following a missed three by Alex Hunter with 2.6 seconds left.
Rafferty missed the front end of a one-and-one, but the Hinsdale, Ill., product batted away a Wildcat lob into the lane as time expired to send the contest to overtime.
The Paladins shot 42.3% from the field and made 16 of their 20 free throw attempts. Furman limited the defending national champions to 40% shooting, including a 14-for-44 effort from three-point range. Head coach Bob Richey's team forced 18 Villanova turnovers, outscored the Wildcats 30-18 in the paint and managed a 47-40 edge in rebounding.
The victory over a top 10 opponent was the first for Furman since downing ETSU at the Greenville Memorial Auditorium in 1991. The No. 8 Wildcats represented the highest ranked opponent the Paladins defeated since downing No. 4 Davidson on February 13, 1964.
The Paladins return home to play host to Southern Wesleyan Wednesday at 6:30 p.m. in Timmons Arena. Furman basketball season tickets and SoCon Six Game Pack's are available HERE.
Jordan Caskey, Furman Sports Information