GREENVILLE, S.C. -- Karim Souchu scored 21 points and claimed 10 rebounds to lead Furman to a 75-52 win over New Hampshire in Poinsettia Classic first round action Saturday afternoon at Timmons Arena.
Furman (6-7) will face Dartmouth in the tournament championship Sunday afternoon at 4:00 p.m. in a game televised by Comcast-Charter Sports Southeast (CSS). The Big Green defeated Stetson 86-74 in the other first round game to earn a berth in the championship.
New Hampshire (1-7) and Stetson will tip off in the consolation game beginning at 1:30 p.m.
Furman pounced on New Hampshire early, racing to a 21-2 lead on the strength of a pair of 3-pointers and dunk by Jason Patterson, with the latter coming only a little over seven minutes into the game to put the Paladins in complete control.
The Paladins led 38-16 at halftime and increased their advantage to a many as 25 points following a fast break layup by Maleye Ndoye with 7:52 left for a 58-33 lead.
New Hampshire answered with an 12-0 run to cut the margin to 13 points at 58-45 following a pair of Marcus Bulllock free throws at the 4:44 juncture, but the Wildcats, paced by Bullock's 13 points, could get no closer the rest of the way.
"I thought the first half was one of the best 20 minutes we've played all year," said Furman head coach Larry Davis. "The offense was in the flow and played with great energy, and the second unit came off the bench and delivered the same level of play. Overall I was really pleased with our effort. We'll need it again against Dartmouth in the championship game to have a chance to win."
Furman shot only 41.5 percent for the game, converting 27-of-65 attempts from the field, but the Paladins fashioned a productive effort from 3-point range, making good on 8-of-19 attempts (42.1 percent) after entering the contest shooting only 29.2 percent from beyond the arc.
Patterson joined Souchu in double figures with 14 points. Furman claimed a 50-41 advantage in rebounds and limited the Wildcats to only 31.5 percent shooting, including just 3-of-22 from 3-point range (13.6 percent). New Hampshire also struggled at the free throw line, making good on only 15-of-32 attempts (46.9 percent).
In the other first round game Dartmouth's Greg Friel scored 20 points to pace five players in double figures in leading the Big Green (3-5) to the 86-74 triumph over Stetson.
Friel drained 4-of-5 3-pointers to spark a hot shooting Dartmouth squad that converted 54.9 percent of its shots, including 11-of-22 3-pointers. He was joined by Charles Davis with 18 points, Mike McLaren with 13, David Gardner with 12, and Steve Callahan with 11.
Led by Alexis McMillian's 16 points, Stetson also placed five players in double figures, but the Hatters shot only 36.8 percent from the field.
Stetson trailed by as many as 21 points at 62-41 following a pair of Harris free throws at the 12:27 mark but rallied to narrow the Dartmouth lead to nine points at 73-64 with two free throws by Kevin Craig at the 3:53 juncture. Dartmouth answered, however, with a basket and 3-pointer by Harris over the next minute to blunt the Hatter run and secure the win.
Furman is making its ninth Poinsettia Classic championship game appearance in the tournament's 23-year history. The Paladins have claimed six tournament crowns, with its last coming in 1979.