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Dominant Defense Powers Furman To Third Straight Road Win, 64-45

Noah Gurley
Noah Gurley

Cullowhee, N.C. -- Furman's defense forced 22 turnovers and held Western Carolina to 31.4% shooting en route to claiming a 64-45 victory in Southern Conference men's basketball action Thursday evening at the Ramsey Center in Cullowhee, N.C.

The victory, Furman's third straight, improved the Paladins to 19-5 overall and 8-4 in the SoCon. Western Carolina slid to 6-19 overall and 3-9 in league play. With its third straight road win, Furman improved to 9-4 away from home this season and notched its seventh consecutive victory over the Catamounts.

After Western Carolina scored the opening basket, Furman reeled off a 14-0 run and held the Catamounts without a basket for more than 10 minutes to take control of the contest. The Paladins limited Western Carolina to just 13 first half points, the fewest by a SoCon opponent in a single half versus Furman in more than 40 years, while holding WCU to 19.6% shooting the opening 20 minutes to take a 26-13 advantage into halftime.

Furman stretched its lead to as many as 25 points in the second half to secure the win. The Paladins shot 40.4% from the field and outscored the Catamounts 30-18 in the paint. Twenty-two WCU turnovers led to 29 Furman points and the Paladin defense added seven blocked shots and drew three charges.

Freshman Noah Gurley led the Paladins with 14 points, while Matt Rafferty recorded his 11th double-double of the season with 13 points and 10 rebounds. The senior recorded one steal to tie former Paladin Guilherme Da Luz for the school single season record with 64 thefts. Alex Hunter added 10 points for the Paladins.

Marcus Thomas paced the Catamounts with 16 points and Kameron Gibson finished with 10. Western Carolina connected on just 16-of-51 shots, including a 5-for-19 effort from three-point range.

Furman returns home to host ETSU on Saturday at 4 p.m. Saturday's game will be streamed live on ESPN+ and will be shown live on the CW 62. The game can also be heard on the Furman IMG Sports Network with Dan Scott and Tom Van Hoy calling the action. Fans can listen on FoxSports 1440AM, via Stretch Audio at FurmanPaladins.com or by using the TuneIn Radio app.

Saturday's game is sold out, but tickets are still available for Furman's Thursday, February 14, contest versus UNCG and the Paladins' February 16, matchup against VMI.