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Furman begins Southern Conference tournament play Saturday

Senior Devin Sibley, who leads the Paladins in scoring, is a consensus first team All-Southern Conference selection.

Junior Andrew Brown featured in The Greenville News

It’s been nearly 40 years since the Furman basketball team has enjoyed this kind of success.

The Paladins finished the 2017-18 regular season with a 22-9 record, including victories in their final six games, and in sole possession of third place in the Southern Conference. It also marked the first time the program has posted consecutive 20-win seasons since 1980.

But the season is far from over. Furman will begin its quest for a league tournament title and an automatic berth in the NCAA Tournament when the No. 3 seed Paladins face sixth-seeded Western Carolina in the quarterfinal round of the SoCon Men’s Basketball Championship at 8:30 p.m. Saturday at the U.S. Cellular Center in Asheville, N.C.

Furman’s Daniel Fowler shoots over a VMI defender.

The Paladins will be meeting the Catamounts (13-18) for the 73rd time in a series that began in 1977. Furman holds a 43-29 series lead, and has won each of the last four meetings and six of the last seven showdowns against the Catamounts. The Paladins swept the regular season series between the schools with a 100-66 triumph at Timmons Arena Jan. 27 and a 78-55 victory in Cullowhee, N.C., Feb. 23.

In the first meeting, Furman raced out to a 58-28 halftime lead and hit 15 three-pointers to claim the victory. Devin Sibley led the way with 23 points. On the return trip to the Ramsey Center, Andrew Brown hit 6-of-9 three-point attempts to score a career-high 22 points in the victory.

The Paladins are 3-0 all-time versus Western Carolina in SoCon Tournament play. In their most recent postseason encounter, Furman downed the Catamounts, 73-68, in the opening round of the 2004 SoCon Tournament at the North Charleston Coliseum.

The winner of Saturday’s game will advance to a 6:30 p.m. contest on Sunday, March 4, in the semifinal round against the winner of Saturday’s contest between No. 2 seed East Tennessee State and either Samford or Chattanooga.

Tickets for Saturday’s SoCon quarterfinal and the entire championship are on sale at FurmanPaladins.com and at the Timmons Arena Box Office.

Saturday’s game will also be streamed live on ESPN3 and the WatchESPN app with Pete Yanity and Dean Keener calling the action. Fans can listen to the Furman IMG Sports Network broadcast with play-by-play voice Dan Scott on FoxSports 1440AM, thru the TuneIn Radio App and on StretchAudio at FurmanPaladins.com.

Furman will host a pregame gathering for fans on Saturday at 5:30 p.m. at Capella on 9, which is located on the rooftop at The AC Hotel (10 Broadway St. in Asheville). A pep rally and team send-off, featuring the band and cheerleaders, will take place at 6:40 p.m. on Saturday at The AC Hotel. Click here for more information about Furman sponsored events and gatherings at the 2018 SoCon Basketball Championships.

Furman’s four seniors have been instrumental in the historic turnaround of the Paladin basketball program. From left to right, Daniel Fowler, Devin Sibley, head coach Bob Richey, Geoff Beans and John Davis.
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