IMG_5420.JPG

Mike Bothwell

Mike Bothwell, who scored 29 points, failed to score the 30th, 31st and 32nd with 4.4 points to play, and again at the buzzer, and the result was High Point’s 85-82 victory over Furman on Tuesday night at Timmons Arena.

That’s to make a long story short.

In truth, the end of the Paladins’ 4-game win streak – and the extension of the Panthers’ to five – was more involved but hardly complicated.

Furman’s defense was lousy. It pained head coach Bob Richey. He stoically blamed himself. He was not impressed with the performance of his veteran team and, by extension, himself.

“Give a lot of credit to High Point,” he said. “I knew how good they were. G.G. (Smith) has done a great job with that group. We tried to convince our team just how hard it was going to be to guard them … and clearly we didn’t do a good enough job as a staff of getting our team ready to play with the intensity level this game requires out of the gate.

“You would expect, by now, the intensity that’s required at the start of the game.”

Each of Furman’s three losses to date (Penn State, Old Dominion, High Point) had a similar plot: (1.) slow start, (2.) stirring comeback, and, (3.) aching defeat.

IMG_5087.JPG

In the 1st half, Furman allowed a 10-point HPU run, fell 16 points behind, shot .400 from the field overall and .294 from long range, and made a 9-point rally of its own to trail by just four points at halftime.

Furman didn’t look listless in the 1st half. High Point looked better. The Panthers hitting all 7 of their 3-point attempts in the 1st 13 minutes didn’t hurt. Furman hitting 4-14 during the span didn’t help.

Fortunately, Furman brought Bothwell, who, along with Hien, modestly held the line on both ends of the floor. High Point was winning on the boards and shooting with superior accuracy.

Bothwell scored 20 of his 29 points. Hien scored 9 of his 15. Bothwell and Hien combined for 29 of the team’s 41 points.

House had 15 for High Point (8-1) of his 29. Abdoulaye Thiam wound up with 21, followed by Zach Austin with 14 and Bryant Randleman with 12.

Joe Anderson injected life. In a short span, he made a steal and 3 assists and should’ve had at  least a 4th. Then Bothwell drove the lane, and his 3-point play brought Furman back within five (43-38) with 1:29 on the clock.

Furman didn’t lead a second of the 1st half – and only 52 in the game – but Bothwell’s triple with 8 seconds left brought the Paladins within four (45-41) at halftime. High Point had led by 16 with 5:03 remaining.

High Point had the lead back up to nine (54-45) three minutes into the 2nd half.

IMG_5414.JPG

Slawson hit his 1st basket with 13:55 to go in the game. Strangely, it was a turning point. He scored again on the next possession, bringing Furman to within three (57-54). Furman could have tied it, but Bothwell inexplicably missed 2-3 free throws after being fouled on a 3-ball. A tie had to wait until Bothwell assisted Pegues’ fast-break slam at 11:56.

After a 14-1 run, the Paladins led only briefly before the Panthers pulled out again to a 6-point edge at 71-65.

Bothwell’s 3 from the left corner halved the deficit.

In spite of a feverish pace that mainly benefited the Paladins, High Point still led, 78-72, with 3:50 left. A Foster lay-in cut it to four at 3:23.

With 2:00 leff, a Bothwell foul put House at the line for 3 shots, 2 of which he hit. At the time, Bothwell had 29 points and House 28. When High Point called timeout with 1:39 to play, results were not initially positive. Pegues hit consecutive 3-pointers before the 1: mark, Furman (6-3) was back within one. Austin scored for High Point but missed a chance for an “and 1.” Pegues scored again. With 54.8 seconds left, High Point led, 83-82.

High Point’s Austin sank both ends of a 1-and-1, the game’s last points, with six seconds left.

J.P. Pegues buried 2-3 triples en route to 12 points. Bothwell sank 5-11. Hien was 1-2. The rest of the team was 1-16.

“We’re not winning the big games like that,” he said. “It’s not going to happen. We’ve got to decide if want to be a mediocre and inconsistent team that has a lot of talent, or if we want to be a competent team that chases excellence on the defensive floor.”

Richey didn’t paint a total depiction of gloom and doom.

“There’s a lot of teams in the country right now that don’t know their weaknesses,” he said. “They don’t know who they are. They’ve got an inflated view of who they are. They’re going to get in league play and they’re going to be disappointed

“The good news on this is I think we’ve got a pretty good view of what we have to get better at.”

Perhaps Richey can satisfactorily communicate the urgency of the situation between now and Saturday afternoon, when Winthrop visits Timmons at 4.

 

Publisher

Clinton native Monte Dutton is Furman-educated and has been a sportswriter for most of four decade. At DHK Sports LLC and its three website, Monte is committed to filling the void in local sports coverage created by the decline of other media.