ASHEVILLE, NC - Stephen Croone poured in a game-high 27 points and Devin Sibley added 11 as Furman ousted The Citadel from the 2015 Southern Conference Tournament with a 73-56 victory at the U.S. Cellular Center in Asheville, N.C., on Friday evening.
Croone, who finished 9-of-16 from the floor, including three 3-pointers, and 6-of-6 from the line lived up to his first team All-SoCon media billing as he topped the 20-point plateau for the 10th time this season for the Paladins. He moved Furman to 9-21 overall and into a quarterfinals meeting with Chattanooga on Saturday evening.
Sibley, an All-Freshman team selection by both the media and coaches, joined his backcourt counterpart in double figures as he closed out the game 5-of-9 from the floor to go along with two steals.
The pair highlighted a Furman unit that outscored The Citadel 9-0, while taking a 47-27 lead, inside the first four minutes of the second half.
The Bulldogs (11-19) rallied behind a 3-pointer from Jake Wright and five points in the paint by Tom Koopman to close within 10 at the 14:05 mark.
However, nine points from Croone, including a barrage of 3-pointers, sparked a 15-7 run by the Paladins that moved the lead to 62-44 with 8:03 remaining.
The Bulldogs were unable to recover as Furman's advantage ballooned to 27 at one point, before six points down the stretch by Quinton Marshall made for the 73-56 final.
The setback closes out the careers of Marshall Harris III, Ashton Moore and P.J. Horgan. Harris finished tied with Brian White for the team-high in points (11), finishing with 668 as a Bulldog. The San Antonio, Texas, native was 3-of-5 from the floor, all from long distance, and 2-of-2 at the line.
Moore, who capped off his season with 10 points, tied Gary Daniels for sixth in program history in scoring with 1,399. He also managed four assists to finish in seventh with 321 in his career.
Horgan, who pulled down a game-high 11 rebounds (seven defensive), caps off his Bulldog career ranked 30th in total boards (443), 25th in offensive caroms (266) and 19th in defensive rebounds (299).
Croone exploded for 17 points in the first half, hitting 5-of-9 from the floor and 2-of-6 from beyond the arc. He was successful on all five free throw attempts as Furman established an 11-point advantage at the intermission.
The Citadel countered with eight points by Marshall Harris III and seven from White. The Bulldogs offense was 8-of-18 (44.4%) from the floor despite being limited by 12 turnovers.
Furman used a pair of early treys by Croone and Sibley to establish an 8-5 lead, but back-to-back 3-pointers by Harris III gave the Dogs their first lead, 11-8, at the 12:52 mark.
The Paladins scored the next 10 straight points, converting long distance shots by John Davis and Geoff Beans, to take the largest lead of the frame, 21-11.