After 18 days and five games away from home, Furman made a happy return to Timmons Arena Tuesday night. The Paladins shot 54.2 percent from the floor, hit 14 3-pointers and cruised to a 99-38 win over National Christian College Athletic Association member Piedmont International.
Furman (4-3) had a 56-25 rebounding edge over the shorter Bruins (0-6), including 17 offensive rebounds. The Paladins held Piedmont to 24.6 shooting from the floor.
It was Furman’s highest rebounding total in more than 10 years, and highest point total since a 100-58 win over Macalester on Nov. 18, 2005. The Paladins also had 25 assists for the first time since 2006.
“I felt bad a little bit for them. They had four players that were unable to play tonight,” Furman coach Niko Medved said. “Clearly, they were an overmatched opponent, but I thought our kids played hard throughout and showed good energy.”
All but one of the 13 Paladins who played Tuesday had at least one field goal. Ironically, the only Furman player shut out was freshman Matt Rafferty, who entered Tuesday second on the team averaging 14 points a game.
Instead of Rafferty, it was another freshman leading the way for Furman as former Travelers Rest High star Andrew Brown had game-highs in points (21) and rebounds (9) in 23 minutes. Brown, who was the only Paladin to log more than 19 minutes, hit 5-of-6 3-pointers.
Brown, Rafferty and fellow freshman Jonathan Jean have contributed a lot of minutes already and helped Furman develop a 10- and sometimes 11-man rotation.
“I didn’t really think I was going to play this much this early in the season, but coach sees whoever is playing well and he will put you in there,” Brown said. “It really raises the competition.”
The game served as kind of a breakout for Brown, whose previous high-scoring game thus far was six points. He also showed he can be more than a shooter. On his only missed 3-pointer, Brown knew it was off. He raced in for the rebound and made the putback jumper.
While the competition level was lower Tuesday, Medved said he can see the game slowing down for Brown each game.
“Andrew’s a kid that really can rebound. He’s got a natural instinct and nose for the ball,” Medved said. “He’s a good all-around player and a tough kid.”
Stephen Croone and Kris Acox added 15 points apiece for Furman, while Kendrec Ferrara scored 10.
Furman is now off for a week before hosting Big South foes Liberty on Dec. 8 and Gardner-Webb on Dec. 12.
“Liberty is a team that we owe. I think we gave one away on the road last year to them,” Medved said. “Gardner-Webb is another team that we played tight on the road in a loss last year.
“With a week to prepare … this is a great point for us to reaccess where we’re at, things we’re doing well and things we need to improve at.”