ETSU lead disintegrates as Paladins capture win

By Wes Holtsclaw

   JOHNSON CITY -- The East Tennessee State Buccaneers were right where they wanted to be at the end of the first half in Monday night's game against Furman.
   Holding a nine-point lead and eventually stretching it out along the beginning of the second half, the Bucs got swept up in a Paladin tornado after Karim Souchu led the purple power on a 29-8 run within the half.
   Furman held the advantage on the boards and used a defensive prowess en route to an 84-71 victory at Memorial Center.
   "This is a heck of a win for us tonight," said Furman coach Larry Davis. "We had a lot of perseverance when it was tough. I'm proud of the guys -- they kept listening and kept it together. We are playing our best basketball of the year.
   "We weren't really out of the game (after the first half)," he said. "We defended better and the game turned around. The zone helped us shut down the paint a little bit."
   Souchu led Furman with a career-high 32 points, but side play from teammates Jason Patterson and Guilherme DaLuz helped push the Paladins over the top.
   "I thought Furman played really well," said ETSU coach Ed DeChellis. "I was concerned about coming in here tonight. We played sloppy in the first half and let them stay in the game when we should've been up big on them."
   "We couldn't make a basket or keep them off the glass in the second," he said. "They made a run and it caused our demise. We had no answers and it was a tough night for us offensively. Hopefully we'll learn a lesson from this."
   Tim Smith and Zakee Wadood led the Bucs with a solid first-half shooting performance. Souchu was Furman's only hope early in the contest, and he kept them within striking distance.
   Jerald Fields and Ryan Lawson opened the second half on fire for the Bucs, before Furman swept them away.
   "We knew we had a few games left and we had to give everything we had tonight," said Souchu. "Rebounds were important for us and our defense got them in foul trouble."
   "We needed this win," he said, "We've struggled all year and it gives us a bit of confidence. We played great together and played our roles. When we play like that, we are tough to beat."
   ETSU shot 28 percent in the second half after a big first half. Furman shot 47 percent overall in the contest, but came up huge at the free-throw line late in the game, when it mattered most.
   The Bucs had three players in double digits as Smith led the team with 19 while Wadood netted 16. Jerald Fields added 11 points and 11 boards for state. DaLuz added 12 points for Furman.
   The game should serve as an attention grabber for the Bucs who close out their season against Appalachian State this Saturday with a 4:30 time at the Memorial Center.
   Added DeChellis: "Saturday is important. It's a chance for us to get the second seed and it's big for us. Our guys realize that, but I don't know if we were just looking ahead or not."