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Furman Tops Mercer, 71-58; Rafferty Reaches 1,000-Point Plateau

Matt Rafferty
Matt Rafferty

Greenville, S.C. -- Senior Matt Rafferty notched his seventh double-double of the season and became the 44th player in Furman history to surpass 1,000 career points as the Paladins topped Mercer, 71-58, Thursday evening at Timmons Arena.

The victory, Furman's sixth straight versus the Bears and 11th consecutive home win overall, improved the Paladins to 13-2 overall and 2-1 in Southern Conference play. Mercer slipped to 5-9 overall and 0-2 in the league.

Rafferty connected on 6-of-9 shots from the floor and 7-of-8 trips to the foul line to contribute 19 points, 10 rebounds, two assists and three steals. Noah Gurley and Jordan Lyons added 11 points apiece, while Alex Hunter finished with 10 points. Sophomore Clay Mounce pulled down a game-high 11 rebounds to go with six points, three assists and two blocked shots.

Furman converted on 10-of-28 three-point attempts to outscore the Bears by 18 points behind the arc and limited Mercer to just 36.2% shooting, including a 4-for-19 effort from three-point range. The Bears' 58 points marked their lowest offensive output of the season.

All eight Paladins that played in the first half netted at least two points, paced by Gurley's nine points, to help Furman to a 35-26 lead at intermission. Mercer trimmed the margin to 40-34 on a pair of free throws with 14:04 to play before Tre Clark's two-handed jam ignited a 16-3 run during which five different Paladins recorded a basket. Rafferty capped the spurt with five straight points to put Furman ahead 56-37 with 6:54 to play.

Mercer cut the Furman lead back to seven at 65-58 with under 2:30 remaining, but the Paladins held the Bears scoreless the rest of the way to secure the win.

Furman managed a 37-36 edge on the boards, 28-24 scoring advantage in the paint and totaled 16 assists on 25 baskets.

The Paladins are back in action on Saturday at 4 p.m. when they entertain arch rival The Citadel at Timmons Arena. The game will be streamed live on ESPN3 and can be heard on the Furman IMG Sports Network with Dan Scott and Bryant Lambert calling the action. Fans can listen on FoxSports 1440AM, via Stretch Audio at FurmanPaladins.com or by using the TuneIn Radio app.

Tickets for Saturday's game are available online at FurmanPaladins.com and at the Timmons Arena Box Office.