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Furman Downs Hartford In Cancun Challenge Opener, 53-43

Sarah Durdaller
Sarah Durdaller

CANCUN, MEXICO -- Sarah Durdaller scored 13 points and claimed 13 rebounds, and Furman took advantage of cold shooting by Hartford to claim a 53-43 win over the Hawks in the opening game of the Cancun Challenge Thursday afternoon at the Hard Rock Resort.

The Paladins (4-1) will play Florida State (4-1) on Friday in a 1:00 p.m. game.  The Seminoles fell 80-68 to Washington in Thursday's Cancun Challenge second game.

Furman's 4-1 start is its best under fifth-year head coach Jackie Carson and most successful five-game mark by the program since 2004-05 campaign.

Durdaller converted 5-of-11 shots and 3-of-4 free throws for her 13 points, and registered her second double-double of the season with 13 rebounds.  The senior forward's strong work on the glass, coupled with teammate Brittany Hodges' game high 15 caroms helped Furman post a 46-34 rebounding advantage, highlighted by a 35-19 margin on the defensive boards.

Holli Wilkins finished with 12 points, including a perfect 6-for-6 at the free throw line, and Whitney Bunn rounded out Furman's double figure scorers with 10 points.

Cherelle Moore led Hartford with 13 points and 11 rebounds, but the Hawks suffered from poor shooting, converting just 26.6 percent of their shots from the field (17-of-64).

Hartford's 43 points were the fewest allowed by Furman to an NCAA Division I foe since the Paladins limited Georgia Southern to 42 points in a 56-42 win over the Eagles on Jan. 9, 2013, in Statesboro.

Furman led 27-25 at intermission, and it remained close over the first five minutes of the second half before a Bunn jump shot gave the Paladins a 33-31 lead, keying a 13-3 run over a five-minute stretch to stake the Paladins a 44-33 advantage following a pair of Holli Wilkins free throws with 9:03 to go.

Hartford cut the lead to five at 47-42 with a Moore basket with 2:47 remaining, but two buckets by Wilkins and Hodges, and a pair of Wilkins free throws with just under a minute remaining pushed the lead back to 53-42, sealing the outcome.

Furman made 18-of-48 shots in the game (37.5 percent), just one more than Hartford, but the Paladins outscored the Hawks by nine points at the free throw line.

Hunter Reid, Furman Sports Information