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Game Recap: Charlotte slows down Furman 77-68

Stephen Croone's return wasn't enough for Furman to defeat Charlotte Thursday night.

Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

Charlotte outscored Furman 48-34 in the second half to overcome a five-point halftime deficit and come up with its first win of the season with a 77-68 win over Furman Thursday night at Halton Arena.

The win saw Charlotte improve to 1-2 on the season, while Furman fell to 2-1.

Curran Scott led all scorers with 21 points, including going a perfect 11-for-11 from the line on a night when the 49ERS would go 25-for-30 from the stripe, and scored 18 of his 21 point in the second half.

Scott was joined in double figures by Andrien White and Pittsburgh transfer Joseph Uchebo, who added 12 points apiece, as well as Bernard Sullivan and Benas Griciunas, who each added 10, to close out the double-figure scorers. White recorded a double-double for Charlotte, as he added 10 boards to go with his 12 points.

In his first game back, Stephen Croone showed why he was a candidate for the Lou Henson Award for mid-major player of the year, scoring 15 of his team-high 17 points in the second half to pace four Paladins in double figures.

Croone showed little ill effects of his thumb injury, which kept him out of games against Appalachian State and Presbyterian to open the season, connecting on 3-of-8 shots from the field and went 11-for-13 from the line to equal his 17 points. The senior from Covington, GA, registered five of the team's 13 steals.

For the third time in as many outings, Furman freshman forward Matt Rafferty posted double digits for the third-straight game, with 10 points, and finished with his second double-double in three games, posting 12 boards.

Sophomore Devin Sibley recorded his second-straight game in double figures, with 10 points to follow up his 18 points in a win over Appalachian State on Monday. He also had seven rebounds in the loss.

Geoff Beans rounded out the Paladins in double figures, finishing with 10 points off the bench, with two of his three field goals coming from beyond the three-point arc. Eight of Beans' 10 points came in the opening half, as he was the Paladins' leading scorer in the opening half of play.

The Paladins came out and took the game to Charlotte, as Sibley, hit two triples in the game's opening moments to stake the Paladins to an early 6-0 lead.

Croone made almost an immediate impact in the game, as he came into the game and got a steal and assist only moments into his 2015-16 season, hitting Kris Acox with a pass on a three-on-one fast break for an open layup, and Furman increased its lead to 10-7 early in the contest. Croone would add a pair of free throws in the first half for his only two points of the half.

The Paladins led for most of the opening half of play, with the Charlotte holding leads of 7-6, and 17-15 before the Paladins went to the break with a five point lead, keyed by a 5-0 run to close the half on a transition dunk by Wideman following one of the 13 steals by the Paladins, and a three-pointer from Beans.

Early in the second half, Charlotte fell behind 36-29 following a layup by Ferrara, as the Paladins matched their largest lead of the night of seven points at the 18:05 mark.

However, it would be tough sledding over the next few minutes with the Paladins going scoreless over the next four-and-a-half minutes, as the 49ERS reeled off seven straight points to tie the game, 36-36, following a triple from Anthony Ogbueze to tie the game with 14:52 remaining.

The game would sway back-and-forth over the next seven minutes, with four lead changes, and neither team leading by more than two.

A layup by Croone would tie the game for the final time, 48-48, with just under nine minutes to play. The 49ERS would embark on a 9-0 run following the baseline layup from Croone, never relinquishing the lead the remainder of the evening.

Coming out of the under eight media timeout, Uchebo gave the 49ERS their largest lead of the night with a pair of free throws, at 52-48, and after a Furman offensive foul and Croone turnover, the 49ERS would double that four-point lead on buckets by White and Sullivan made it a 56-48 Charlotte lead. A Charlotte free throw by White made it a nine-point lead, at 57-48, with 6:06 remaining.

Furman would stop the run at 9-0, when Rafferty and Andrew Brown connected on back-to-back threes, and after Scott nailed a triple to make it 62-54. Rafferty would cut it back to a five-point deficit on another Rafferty triple, making it a 62-57 game, with 4:18 remaining.

Following the Charlotte timeout, the 49ERS ran the shot clock down, but Acox would be whistled for his fourth foul and then Niko Medved would issued a technical foul. Scott and Uchebo combined to make three free throws, making it a 65-57 game. Croone, however, would convert a three-point play the old fashioned way, to cut it to a five-point game (65-60).

Then, after another stop, Croone would be fouled again and he connected on 1-of-2 shots from the line to make it 65-61.

It would be as close as the Paladins would get the remainder of the game, as Charlotte was able to make its shots from the field and the charity stripe to close out strong and get the win. The 49ERS outscored the 12-7 down the stretch to close out their first win of the season.

Charlotte increased its lead back to eight on a pair of free throws by Sullivan and a bucket by Scott to make it a 69-61 lead with 2:12 the game. The 49ERS on 17 of their final 20 possessions to get the win.

For the game, the two teams combined to turn the basketball over 38 times, with Furman committing a season-high 21 miscues, while Charlotte surrendered the basketball 17 times, with Furman recording 13 of those on steals. Charlotte turned those 21 Paladin turnovers into 31 points, as the biggest stat disparity came in points-off-turnovers, with Charlotte holding a 13-point edge (31-18) in that particular category.

Charlotte connected on 41.4% (24-of-58) from the field, connecting just 26.7% (4-for-15) from three-point land.

Furman shot the ball at a 39.3% (22-of-56) clip, and Furman shot 31.0% (9-for-29) from three-point range in the game. Other than points off turnovers, every other statistical category was virtually even, as the Paladins and 49ERS forged a tie on the boards (37-37), with Furman holding a slight edge in second chance points (13-11). Charlotte held a slight advantage in points in the paint (30-26).

Furman won't have much time to think about this loss, playing at No. 19 UConn Saturday with tip time set for noon at Hampel Pavilion, as the Paladins continue in the Battle 4 Atlantis Tournament. Charlotte will return to the floor in the Paradise Jam Tournament on Nov. 25, facing ACC member and perennial power Syracuse in the first game on Nov. 25.