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‘An Unbelievable Story’

Head coach Bob Richey hoists Furman’s Southern Conference Tournament championship trophy following the Paladins’ 88-79 title game victory over Chattanooga at Harrah’s Cherokee Center in Asheville, N.C. / Jeremy Fleming

By Staff Report

The men’s basketball team returned to the NCAA Tournament after winning the SoCon.


In March, the Furman men’s basketball team made its seventh NCAA Tournament appearance and first since 1980. The Paladins, who claimed the Southern Conference regular season title with a 15-3 league mark, toppled Chattanooga, 88-79, on March 6 in Asheville, North Carolina, to capture their first SoCon Tournament title in 43 years. No. 13 seed Furman then went on to defeat the No. 4 seed Virginia, 68-67, in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. But on March 18, Furman fell to No. 5 seed San Diego State, 75-52, in the second round.  

“It’s an unbelievable story, and I couldn’t be more proud of our team, at a time where I’m extremely disappointed we didn’t advance,” said head coach Bob Richey. “But it’s really hard to not pull the lens back a little bit and still see what that group was able to accomplish. For that, I’ll forever be grateful.” 

Heading into the tournament, in six years as the Paladins’ head coach, Richey had posted a 138-53 overall record and gone 78-27 in the SoCon. The Paladins have posted five 20-win seasons under Richey and rank as one of just 16 Division I teams to win at least 25 games in three of the last five seasons.  

Fifth-year seniors Mike Bothwell ’23 and Jalen Slawson ’23, both first team All-SoCon selections and finalists for the Lou Henson National Player of the Year Award, have paced the Paladins to a school-record 115 wins in their five years at Furman. 

“All of our student-athletes play such important and integral roles at Furman,” said President Elizabeth Davis after Furman’s final game. 

“Their dedication and hard work, in addition to their academic responsibilities, is admirable, and our faculty and staff are to be commended for teaching, mentoring and supporting them.”  

At press time, the Greenville County Council was preparing a proclamation to recognize the men’s basketball team. For the latest information and analysis, visit