Beyond the Scoreboard: Catamounts bumped from SoCon tourney

WCU head coach Larry Hunter congratulates the Furman Paladins on their 78-55 win Friday. Photo: WMYA

No. 3 Furman blitzed No. 6 Western Carolina with 56 percent shooting Saturday night en route to a 97-73 romp in the quarterfinal round of the Southern Conference tournament at U.S. Cellular Center.

The Paladins (23-9) beat the Catamounts (13-19) decisively for the third time this season, taking control early and enjoying a 50-31 lead at intermission.

Furman will play No. 3 East Tennessee State in Sunday’s 6:30 p.m. quarterfinal. No. 1 UNC Greensboro plays No. 5 Wofford in the other semifinal at 4 p.m.

Daniel Fowler had 18 points, among five Paladins in double figures.

Marcus Thomas had 17 points and six rebounds for the Catamounts.

“I thought the guys came out with the right mentality,” said Furman coach Bob Ritchey. “We had some defensive goals that we were focused on. We closed out and finished our business.”

“Like the previous two games, we struggled to guard (Furman),” said WCU coach Larry Hunter. “We did hold them to one 3-pointer in the second half, but we dug ourselves such a hole, it was really hard to get back in it. I thought the effort and energy was good midway through the second half when we got it down to 15, but we just could not get over the hump to get it down under double-digits.”

Sunday’s play also includes the women’s championship game at noon between top seed Mercer and No. 2 East Tennessee State.

The men’s championship game is Monday at 9 p.m.

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