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SoCon Report 2/26/24

By Matt Hill

Samford 74, Furman 72

It ended up being the game of the year so far in the Southern Conference and arguably one of the top games of the year on a national level.

Samford looked totally done in this one, but Jermaine Marshall was not going to lose, and his heroics led to a


74-72 win in a classic in Birmingham.

With under a minute left Furman was ahead 72-70 with the ball and it looked like this game was pretty much over.


Enter Marshall.

Marshall is arguably when healthy Samford's best player, but he has been injured most of the season and just recently came back to action. He has been playing about 16 minutes a game since he returned, but on this night truly made his presence felt in this huge SoCon game.


On the inbounds with Furman up two and really just needing the basketball over halfcourt and probably needing one more bucket to seal it, Marshall stepped up and stole the inbounds and then was fouled.


This one play totally changed the feel of the game. Now all Marshall needed to do was hit two foul shots to tie it and put his team in position for overtime.

Mission accomplished. Marshall hit two free throws to tie the game at 72-72.


After stopping Furman, the Bulldogs had one last chance and who did they put in charge of getting the win, of course it was Marshall.


Marshall laid the ball in the bucket with 2.9 seconds left and that pretty much sealed the game. However, there was a little controversy that came to light on Thursday after the game was over on social media.

Twitter showed a picture of a Furman player making a timeout signal with 2.5 seconds left in the game and the Paladins had one timeout left. Southern Conference officials have been under fire in recent weeks, and this is not going to help the perception.


Samford was ahead 56-48 with 7:54 remaining, but it never felt that this game was close to over. JP Pegues started putting on a show for Furman about this time and it was a phenomenal performance.

Pegues scored 19 points in a row at one point for Furman and he single handedly took over the game and had the Paladins in position to win.


At the end of his scoring splurge, Furman led 72-67, the last points the school from Greenville, South Carolina scored in this one.


Pegues finished with 33 points for Furman. The next closest for the Paladins was 10 points.


This was a very physical contest where tempers almost flared a couple of times. The officials stepped in and made sure the extracurricular activities didn't get blown out of proportion.

It was another balanced effort for Samford as Rylan Jones topped Samford with 17 points, Marshall had 15 points and eight rebounds, Nathan Johnson netted 13 points and Jaden Campbell finished with 12.

While everybody contributed, Samford head coach Bucky McMillian was proud of Marshall for willing the team to victory.


"Jermaine Marshall wants to win more than any player I have ever coached, " McMillian said in an interview on ESPNPlus. "He is not the best shooter or the best ball handler, but he is the best player on the floor.

"We fought through a lot of adversity. We were without Achor Achor, one of the best players in this league. This is a great win for our program," McMillian added.


WEEKEND GAMES

The Citadel 71, Chattanooga 62

In one of the upsets of the year in Southern Conference play, the Bulldogs shocked the Mocs in Charleston. 

Chattanooga had a 36-26 lead at halftime and looked to be cruising toward the win, but the Bulldogs outscored the Mocs 45-26 in the second half. The Citadel shot 59 percent in the final 20 minutes.

Honor Huff topped Chattanooga with 20 points. Madison Durr and AJ Smith finished with 18 points for the Bulldogs while Quentin Milora-Brown had 15 points and 10 rebounds. 


Samford, 87, ETSU 71

It was a first half to remember for Samford as it tallied 53 points and shot 64 percent from the field as the Bulldogs made a huge statement again that they are truly at this moment the class of the league and also clinched the SoCon regular season crowd. 


Jaden Campbell topped Samford with 28 points while Rylan Jones had 19 points for the Bulldogs.

Ebby Asamoah had 19 points and Jaden Seymour added 17 for ETSU while Jadyn Parker had 12 rebounds for ETSU.


Furman 82, Wofford 67

Furman bounced back from that heartbreaker to Samford with a comfortable win over their arch-rival Wofford.

JP Pegues and Marcus Foster each had 20 points for the Paladins. Wofford had three players with 11 points but got another huge rebounding day from Kyler Filewich who had 11 rebounds.


Western Carolina 84, VMI 51

The Catamounts led 44-21 at the half and raced off to the victory.

Five players were in double figures for Catamounts with Russell Jones, Jr and Tre Jackson netting 15 points. Tyran Cook topped VMI with 18 points. 


Mercer 86, UNC Greensboro 72

Mercer scores another huge upset against one of the top teams in the conference and the Bears are asserting themselves as a team others do not want to face in Asheville at the SoCon Tourney,

Jake Davis netted 21 and Jalyn McCreary had 19 to lead the Bears. Keyshaun Langley topped UNCG with 18 points.


WEEKDAY GAMES

UNCG 71, Western Carolina 65

The Spartans took care of its home court at the Greensboro Coliseum Wednesday night in a win over Western Carolina.


Western Carolina has who is going to be the Player-of-the-Year in the SoCon in Vonterius Woolbright, but like what has been happening in Western games the other team is more balanced and that has been leading to victories for the opponent.


Woolbright and Russell Jones, Jr. had 22 points each for the Catamounts, but Greensboro had four players in double figures.


Keyshaun Langley and Mikeal Brown-Jones had 19 to top the Spartans with Jones tallying eight rebounds. Donovan Atwell netted 15 points for UNCG.

Greensboro led 31-26 at halftime but was comfortably ahead in the final few minutes of the second half.

It was a long game with the contest going close to 2 1/2 hours.


Chattanooga 81, Wofford 65

Honor Huff scored 29 points and Sam Alexis finished with nine rebounds for Chattanooga as the Mocs easily defeated the Terriers.

Chattanooga led 39-38 at the half but outscored Wofford 42-27 in the second half.

Corey Tripp had 21 to lead Wofford.


ETSU 82, VMI 69

The Bucs continued their domination of the bottom part of the Southern Conference with a convincing win over the Keydets.

ETSU led 52-30 at the half and never looked back.


The Bucs had four players in double figures led by Ebby Asamoah with 21 points. Quimari Peterson had 10 assists for the Bucs.

Taeshaud Jackson had 18 points and 14 rebounds to top VMI.


Mercer 87, The Citadel 78

Jalyn McCreary finished with 25 points and Alex Holt poured in 23 to help the Bears keep pace with ETSU for the battle for seventh in the Southern Conference.

Elijah Morgan topped The Citadel with 20 points.

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