SPARTANBURG, S.C. — Coming into Thursday, home teams were a combined 6-1 in the 2017 CIT.
After the first two games of the night, they were now 6-3.
In the first game of the evening, the Furman Paladins paid a visit to Spartanburg, South Carolina for a date with the USC Upstate Spartans. It was the first-ever meeting on the hardwood between the two programs.
Fresh off a share of the Southern Conference regular season title, the Paladins took control of the contest out of the gate against the Spartans. Furman went on an 8-0 run to open the game, highlighted by a pair of three pointers from Devin Sibley, to take control from the opening tip.
The lead for the Paladins would reach 10 points in the opening half, but the Spartans managed to trim it down to four with just over two minutes in the half.
That was as close as the home side would get on the night, as Furman pulled away early in the second half and cruised to the 79-57 win over USC Upstate.
After a pair of free throws from Malik Moore brought the Spartans to within four points with 2:08 left to play in the opening half, John Davis responded with a three for the Paladins to push their advantage back to seven points.
They would take a 37-30 lead into the break, and would build on it in the early stages of the second half.
Out of the gate, the Paladins used an 11-3 run to push their lead to 15 points, at 48-33. Davis capped the run with a layup to give the Paladins all the momentum.
USC Upstate would get to within 12 points, on a three ball from Deion Holmes with 10:08 to play. They wouldn’t get any closer the rest of the way, as the Paladins kept the pedal down and pulled away over the final 10 minutes.
The Paladins’ lead reached as many as 24 points, and they cruised to the 79-57 victory over the Spartans.
John Davis led all Furman scorers with 16 points to go along with his eight assists. Devin Sibley and Kris Acox added 13 points apiece, while Acox also pulled down 12 rebounds for the double-double.
Josh Cuthbertson scored a game-high 20 points in the loss. He was the only Spartan to score in double-figures. Malik Moore was second on the team with eight points.
By virtue of their win, the Furman Paladins (22-11) have advanced to the quarter-finals of the CIT. They receive a bye through the second round.
With the loss, the 2016-17 season has come to an end for the USC Upstate Spartans (17-16).
– T. Bennett