Greenville, S.C. – Seniors Darryl Evans and Amu Saaka tallied 14 points apiece and combined to convert on 11-of-13 second half free throw attempts as Furman held off UNC Asheville 69-67 in non-conference men's basketball action on Tuesday night at Timmons Arena.
The win improved the Paladins to 2-0 on the season while UNC Asheville suffered its first loss of the campaign and slipped to 1-1.
Furman built a 14-point first half lead, but had to drain 14-of-17 second half free throws and make good on 25-of-29 trips to the charity stripe on the night to hold off Asheville. The Bulldogs, who were led by guard Matt Dickey's game-high 26 points, opened the scoring with a free throw before Furman reeled off a 25-10 run to open up a 14-point advantage on a Noah States trey with 7:57 to go in the first half. Asheville trimmed the margin to 34-26 at intermission and opened the final 20 minutes on a 6-0 run to cut the Paladin lead to 34-32.
The Bulldogs would pull within two points on four more occasions in the second half, but Furman managed to answer each time. With the Paladins leading by four with under three minutes to play, Saaka buried a pair of free throws and Evans converted on 3-of-4 at the line to fashion a 5-0 run and give Furman a 61-52 cushion with 1:25 left. Dickey drained a three-pointer and J.P. Primm followed a Furman turnover with a pair of free throws to get the Bulldogs back within four points, but the Paladins connected on 8-of-10 free throw attempts over their final five possessions to seal their second straight win over Asheville.
Evans finished 4-of-7 from the floor and 5-of-7 from the stripe for his team-high 14 while Saaka made 4-of-10 field goals and all six of his free throw attempts to match Evans with 14 points. States added 12 points and eight rebounds before fouling out while Brandon Sebirumbi chipped in with 11 points. Junior Chris Toler grabbed a career-high 10 rebounds, including six on the offensive end.
The Paladins shot 40.8% (20-49) from the field, but just 4-of-18 beyond the arc. Furman forced 15 Asheville turnovers while committing 17. Each team totaled 37 rebounds in the contest.
Dickey connected on three treys and 9-of-10 free throws to net 26 points. D.J. Cunningham added 15 points and eight rebounds for UNC Asheville, and Primm totaled 13 points and nine boards. The Bulldogs shot 36.7% (22-60) despite making just one of their first 13 shots.
Asheville hosts Virginia Intermont in its home opener on Saturday at 2 p.m. Furman opens a three-game road trip on Friday when it visits Kent State (3-1). Tip-off is slated for 7 p.m.