Furman basketball’s first game in downtown Greenville since 2007 was a smashing success in the most directly measurable way, with 3,750 fans filing into Bon Secours Wellness Arena last month to watch the Paladin men dunk their way past Winthrop 80-73.
That would have been an overflowing sellout at the 2,500-seat Timmons Arena on campus, and so many people coming out to see the team play a relatively anonymous non-conference opponent is a testament to the possibilities for the program downtown that athletics director Jason Donnelly envisioned when he unveiled “Weekends at the Well” in October.
“Furman Athletics is excited about our women’s and men’s basketball doubleheader,” Donnelly said. “Both teams are playing extremely well and have NCAA Tournament aspirations. Our first basketball game at ‘The Well’ in December was a huge success, with incredible support from students, faculty, staff, season ticket-holders and fans. We encourage everyone in the Furman family to join us for a fun day full of events, hospitality and high level college basketball.”
This Saturday, Jan. 11, both the men’s and women’s teams hope to build on the momentum in the second of the season’s three Weekends at the Well. One ticket gets fans access to both the Paladin women taking on Samford beginning at 4:30 p.m., followed by the men battling UNC Greensboro at 7 in a pair of Southern Conference matchups.
The men defeated East Tennessee State, the preseason favorite to win the SoCon, 65-56 on Saturday, and improved to 14-3 overall after knocking off Chattanooga 73-66 Wednesday behind a career-high 27 points from Mike Bothwell ’22. The Paladins have won seven straight since falling 81-78 in overtime at No. 5 Auburn on Dec. 5 and are ranked third nationally in the latest College Insider Mid-Major Top 25 poll.
Their 4-0 start in conference play is the best since 1979-80 – also the last time Furman made the NCAA tournament.
UNCG was picked second in the league in the preseason, and the Spartans are 12-5 and 2-2 after losing to ETSU on Wednesday.
Jordan Lyons ’20 was named the SoCon Player of the Week on Tuesday after averaging 27.0 points in wins over VMI and ETSU. On New Year’s Day at VMI, Lyons – who hit a school-record 15 3-pointers while pouring in 54 points against North Greenville last season – drained 10-of-12 3s on his way to scoring 40 points, which made him the first Paladin since Darrell Floyd ’56 to notch two 40-point games in his career.
Furman forward Tierra Hodges ’21 was recently named the SoCon women’s Player of the Month for December. The Covington, Georgia, native averaged 14.8 points and 10.5 rebounds over six games that included winning the FAU Holiday Classic in Boca Raton, Florida.
Le’Jzea Davidson ’20 leads Furman, which was 9-5 entering Thursday’s SoCon opener against Mercer, in scoring at 14.5 points per game. Samford was 5-10 before Thursday’s game at Wofford.
A variety of pregame activities are available for fans outside the 15,000-seat arena, starting with “In Her Shoes” from 2-3:30 inside Bon Secours Wellness Arena. In Her Shoes is a program that seeks to inspire young women to be future leaders, and its panel of speakers includes Furman women’s basketball coach Jackie Carson.
The cost is $12.50, which includes the program and entry into both games. Tickets can be purchased at www.BonSecoursArena.com/InHerShoes.
Outside the arena at the Furman Plaza starting at 5 p.m., there will be inflatables, a DJ and tailgate games. The men’s basketball Champions Walk will take place at 5:25 through the Furman Plaza Entrance, and the first 1,000 fans to the doubleheader will receive a free Furman Rally Towel that will be distributed at the main entrances starting at 3:30 p.m.
One fan will get a chance to compete in a contest for $10,000 during the men’s basketball game.
Bon Secours Wellness Arena has a clear bag policy as well as a no re-entry policy. Anyone who would like to pick up a free clear bag can do so at the Mast General Store on 111 North Main Street this Thursday, Jan. 9, from 5-7 p.m., by showing their proof of ticket purchase.
Student tickets can be picked up on Friday, Jan. 10, at Timmons Arena from 3-6 p.m. or on Saturday, Jan. 11, at the Bon Secours Arena box office main entrance starting at 3:30 p.m. A free bus shuttle for Furman students will loop from Timmons to the Well starting at 3:15 p.m. on game day and running until 11:30 p.m.
Tickets can be purchased by visiting this site. Faculty/staff tickets requests should be directed to the Timmons Arena box office at 864-294-3099.
The final Weekend at the Well will feature the men squaring off against rival Wofford at noon on Feb. 22.
Furman played its home games downtown at Memorial Auditorium for 38 years until Timmons Arena opened on campus in 1998. Since then, the Paladins have played a sprinkling of games in Bon Secours, which also opened in 1998, but none since the 2006-07 season when they hosted Davidson and College of Charleston.