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SoCon Quarterfinals Recap

March 5, 2004 Conference Notes No Comments

Southern Conference Quarterfinals Recap

Recap by Paul Oren

#1N East Tennessee State 94 #4S Furman 84
Tim Smith picked up right where he left off from last season’s SoCon Tournament. The 2003 MVP scored a team-high 24 points and had 4 steals to lead ETSU to a 94-84 victory over Furman. The “Furman Freshman” were fabulous again as Eric Webb led all scorers with 28 points, including 6 three-pointers in the first half and Robby Bostain added 12.

The Paladins took a 49-47 lead at the half after being down 10 early and continued to build the lead up to 9 with 14:17 left in the game. The Smith went to work, scoring 8 points during a 17-2 run. Furman got as close as 1 points with four minutes remaining before Jerald Fields stepped up, scoring 9 of his 15 points in the final five minutes.

“Over the final 10 minutes we stepped up on defense,” said ETSU coach Murry Bartow. “We really feed off our defense. In one stretch, (Furman) was scoring at will, but our guys remained calm.”

Furman’s Maleye Ndoye ended his collegiate career with 22 points and 6 rebounds. The future is bright for the Paladins who have the most talented freshman of any team in the SoCon.

“That was a heck of a basketball game,” said Furman coach Larry Davis. “If that had been on TV, it would have shown how great the Southern Conference is. We laid everything on the line and played hard. The key of the game was our turnovers. We had 20. You can’t turn the ball over against a team like ETSU and expect to win.”

#2S Davidson 68 #3N Elon 61
It looked for more than 30 minutes that Elon would become the Cinderella of their first SoCon tournament. Having rallied late in the season to secure the 3 seed in the North, the Phoenix then moved past The Citadel and appears to have Davidson’s number in their Quarterfinal contest. With 12:14 left in the game, the Wildcats were down 41-33, but after 4 points and 3 steals by Terrell Ivory and a 3-pointer by Matt McKillop, they were only 1 point, a mere 83 seconds later.

Elon was able to keep Davidson at bay for a while longer, but were never able to deliver the knockout punch and with 3:07 remaining, Ian Johnson hit a lay-up that gave Davidson the lead for good. McKillop, the coach’s son, finished off the game with 6 of his 12 points in the final 3 minutes. Brendan Winters, a 1st team All-Conference player, was held to 9 points, the first time since the season opener he did not reach double figures. But for Davidson, Ivory clearly stepped up his game.

“I wasn’t ready to go home today,” said Ivory. “This was a similar situation to last year [quarterfinal loss to VMI]. We played out of our game at the beginning, but I think we learned out lessons from playing the tough early schedule. So we were able to pull out the victory. Coaches have been telling me all year to bring energy to the floor, so that’s what I tried to do.”

Elon’s Jackson Atoyebi led the team with a double double with 20 points and 10 rebounds. The Phoenix finish at 12-18 in their first season in the Southern Conference.

#1S Georgia Southern 82 #5S Wofford 69
Wofford ran through UNC Greensboro in overtime on Wednesday night and on Thursday night, they ran straight into a very tough Georgia Southern defense.

“We wanted to play tough full-court, man-to-man defense tonight and I thought we did that well right from the beginning,” Georgia Southern coach Jeff Price said. “That set the stage of how we were going to play.”

The Eagles did just that, holding the Terriers to a season-low 33.8 field goal percentage and 17.8 three-point percentage. On offense, the Eagles featured a strong balance with Elton Nesbitt leading the way with 17 points. Adrien Borders led all scorers with 23 points for Wofford, the second best scoring output of his career, seconded only by the 27 points her scored against Georgia Southern earlier this season. Wofford surprised a lot of people by defeating UNC Greensboro in the opening round before falling to the Eagles.

“I tip my hat to Georgia Southern. Their speed and quickness is something that I marvel at,” remarked Wofford coach Mike Young. “We played really hard but couldn’t get over the hump. We grew up a lot as a team over the two days here at the tournament.

#2N Chattanooga 89 #3S Charleston 79
Although it won’t go in the books as an upset, very few people in North Charleston expected the College of Charleston to be going home in the Quarterfinals of the 2004 SoCon Tournament, the first time since 2001 they will not make the semi-finals.

Chattanooga, down 7 at the break, outscored the Cougars 54-36 in the second half, and they did so with a three-point barrage. The two teams combined for 25 three-pointers, and Alphonso Pugh had 5 three’s to go along with his 21 points to push the Mocs towards the victory. Pugh made three straight three-pointers to give the Mocs a 10-point lead with 1:53 left in the game.

“It was a game of runs,” said Chattanooga coach Jeff Lebo. “Charleston shot extremely well early and got us down 14. When our team gets down like that, we tend to get down even further. Instead, we battled back, held our composure and started making plays.”

Ashley Champion led all scorers with 26 points for UTC. For the Cougars, Mike Benton had a double double with 14 points and 15 rebounds, and Thomas Mobley led the team with 21 points. The Cougars, who finished the year at lose 7 seniors next season including 4 starters.

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