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Furman Survives Mount St. Mary’s Furious Rally

David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

Stephen Croone scored a game-high 17 points to lead three players in double figures, as Furman held off Mount St. Mary's, 69-60, in the consolation game of the Mainlanders bracket of the Battle 4 Atlantis Tournament Friday afternoon at Elon's Alumni Gym.

With the win, Furman ends a three-game losing skid and improved its record to 3-3 on the young season, while Mount St. Mary's remained winless on the young season, falling to 0-6.

Croone posted 17 points on 5-of-9 shooting from the field, including 2-for-5 from three-point range, but it was 5-of-6 performance down the stretch in the contest that helped ice the game for the Paladins. The senior guard from Covington, GA, also added three assists, two steals and two boards in the nine-point win. It marked his second-straight game in double figures and third game in four he has played in this season.

Croone was joined in double figures by Kris Acox and Daniel Fowler, who scored 13 and 10 points, respectively. Acox posted his strongest outing since the first game of the season against Presbyterian, as he just missed a double-double, posting 13 points and nine rebounds.

Fowler, who was back in the starting lineup after missing the first start of his career yesterday against Texas A&M Corpus Christi, responded in strong fashion posting a double-double of his own, with 10 points and 10 rebounds.

The Mountaineers finished with four players in double figures, with Gregory Graves and Charles Glover posting 11 points apiece, while Junior Robinson and Taylor Danaher each finished with 10.

It appeared the Paladins would coast to a victory, as the Paladins would go to the halftime break posting a 40-24 lead at the break on a blistering 54.8% shooting from the field, while holding the Mountaineers to just 22.2% from the field.

However, the Mountaineers would storm back in the second half, courtesy of their fullcourt pressure, which forced Furman into 11 second half turnovers. The Mountaineers would run off a 19-2 and would lead to a 27-10 run to open the second frame, as Mount St. Mary's took its first lead, at 51-50, on a B.K. Ashe three with 7:34 remaining in the contest.

Furman would see Mount St. Mary's grow to four after Robinson's three with 5:42 left made it a 55-51 Mountaineer lead. But the Paladins would get tough down the stretch, making the plays an experienced basketball team makes down the stretch to gut out the win. An Acox layup on a nice pass from Croone and then after a missed three by Mount St. Mary's, Croone dished to Fowler for a clutch triple, helping the Paladins regain the lead, 56-55, with 4:20 remaining.

Chris Wray tied the game, 56-56, as he went 1-of-2 at the stripe following a John Davis foul and the final media timeout of the contest, however, Davis would get fouled on the other end and would knock down a pair of free throws to start a string of 10-straight foul shots over the final 3:23, as the Paladins finished the game out-scoring the Mountaineers 14-4 down the stretch in getting the win.

Furman got four-straight defensive stops in crunch time, allowing the Paladins to take an eight-point lead (64-56) before Ashe ended the scoring streak with a layup with 35 seconds remaining. Three more Fowler free throws and an emphatic slam from Acox on a press-breaker helped the Paladins close out the 69-60 win.

The other storyline of the night would be Matt Rafferty, who posted double-digit rebounds (13 rebs) for the fourth time in his first six collegiate games, finished below double figures for the first time in his collegiate career, contributing seven points, including one of the six Paladin triples (6-for-17/35.3%) in the contest.

Rafferty's performance helped the Paladins to a substantial 43-18 edge on the backboards, including 15 offensive boards, which the Paladins converted into a 10-5 edge in second-chance points. Mount St. Mary's got back into the game by forcing 12 of Furman's 19 turnovers in the second half, converting into a 20-9 edge in points off turnovers.

The Paladins finished the night shooting an impressive 51.5% (24-of-47) from the field, while holding the Mountaineers to 44.2% (23-of-52) in the contest, and just 25% (5-for-20) from three-point range in the contest.