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Furman Tops Western Carolina In SoCon Road Opener, 68-59

Furman beat Western Carolina 68-59 in its SoCon road opener Thursday.

CULLOWHEE, N.C. -- Le'Jzae Davidson scored 16 points and Furman used a strong start and finish to beat Western Carolina, 68-59, in Southern Conference women's basketball action Thursday evening at the Ramsey Center.

The win improved Furman to 11-6 overall and 2-1 in SoCon play while Western Carolina fell to 3-14 overall and 0-3 in league action.

Davidson's 16-point effort paced a trio of double figure scorers for the Paladins, who got 15 points, seven rebounds, and a pair of blocks from Celena Taborn, and 14 points from Cierra CarterKaitlyn Duncan led all rebounders with eight caroms.

"I was very proud of our resiliency tonight because Western Carolina is tough at home, and we knew they would make a run," said head coach Jackie Carson.  "We really focused on attacking the rim and getting the ball inside, which we did to get the lead back late in the third quarter and get off to a good start in the fourth quarter.  It was good to get a quality win on the road."

Using a pair of 3-pointers from Carter and a trey from Davidson to highlight 4-of-6 shooting from beyond the arc over the game's first 10 minutes, Furman raced to a 23-15 lead after one quarter and led by as many as 12 in the first half after Tyah Hunter converted a jump shot with five minutes to go before intermission.

The Catamounts, who trailed 36-28 at halftime, opened the second half with a 10-0 run, spiced by 3-pointers from Nikki Johnson and Judith Martin Ruiz, to go up 38-36 on an Angel Allen layup following a Julia Brown steal.

Furman trailed 42-38 before a Davidson 3-pointer keyed a 7-0 spurt to put the Paladins ahead 45-42 at the 4:44 juncture.

Davidson later bottomed a pair of free throws at the 1:03 mark to give Furman the lead for good at 50-48.

Taborn opened the fourth period with a pair of layups to stretch the advantage to 55-48.  From that point the Paladins kept the Catamounts in check, Davidson's 3-point play with 6:37 remaining making it 58-52.

Duncan's first basket of the game, with 1:46 to go, kept it a two-basket lead at 62-57, after which the Paladins tallied their final six points at the free throw line.

Martin Ruiz led all scorers with 19 points.

Furman fashioned an 11-point differential at the free throw line, knocking down 17-of-23 attempt to just 6-of-8 for Western Carolina. The Paladins also registered a 39-31 advantage on the glass.

Both teams shot 40.0 percent from the field and hit seven 3-pointers apiece.

The Paladins play at UNCG on Saturday in a 4:00 p.m. contest.

Hunter Reid, Furman Sports Information