ASHEVILLE, N.C. – Jackie Carson, whose Furman jersey hangs from the rafters of Timmons Arena, won her 200th game as women’s basketball coach on Wednesday night over the University of North Carolina Asheville, 65-64.
Grace van Rij sank the go-ahead free throw with seven second remaining, and the Paladins’ defense made it stand.
Counting her 200 coaching victories and the 68 wins she registered during her playing tenure, during which time she was twice named SoCon Player of the Year, Carson, a member of Furman’s Athletic Hall of Fame, has had a hand in nearly 42 percent of all victories in the history of Furman women’s basketball.
“I am so proud of this team,” said Carson. “The grit and defensive effort they showed in the 4th quarter will win us a lot of games in the future. We said going into the final quarter that we were not going to lose and that we needed to win the quarter by six points, and that’s exactly what we did.
“To win 200 games at my alma mater is surreal. I am truly blessed to have so many people who have helped this program get to this point. This is a milestone made possible on behalf of a lot of people. Thank you to everyone who has contributed to the 200.”
van Rij’s go-ahead free throw, just her 2nd make from the line in 7 tries, gave Furman (6-4) its 1st lead of the 2nd half after the Paladins twice trailed by as many as nine points over the game’s final 20 minutes. The All-SoCon forward and graduate student converted 9–13 field goal attempts to finish with a game-high 20 points, which she combined with 10 rebounds for her 2nd double-double of the season.
Freshman Sydney Ryan pumped in 15 of her 18 points in the 2nd half, and Jaelyn Acker rounded out Furman’s double-figure scoring effort with 11.
UNC Asheville (4-3) was paced by McKinley Brooks-Sumpter with 15 points.
Furman trailed, 38-33, at intermission and fell behind 44-35 following a Jordaynia Ivie fast-break basket less than two minutes into the second half.
A Brooks-Sumpter layup with 3:25 to go in the 3rd period put the Bulldogs up, 52-43, after which the Paladins answered with two Ryan baskets in a 5-0 run to slice the advantage to 52-48.
Furman stayed within striking distance due primarily to Ryan and van Rij, with van Rij hitting back-to-back baskets to pull the Paladins to within 60-59 with 4:25 remaining in the contest.
After UNCA answered to go up 62-59, Ryan tied it with a 3-pointer with 3:47 to go.
Abigail Wilson gave UNCA its final lead, 64-62, with a layup at the 3:21 remaining, but the Bulldogs failed to convert on their final four possessions, suffering 2 turnovers and missing 2 shots.
A laser pass from the left corner by Sydney James to van Rij under the basket for a layup knotted the game at 64-64 with 2:56 to go.
van Rij got to the free throw line for the game deciding free throw after corralling a miss by James and drawing a foul.
UNCA shot .444 (28-63) from the field to Furman’s .364 (24-66). The Paladins, however, outscored the Bulldogs by nine points at the charity stripe, though only canning 13-22.
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