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Newton grad’s career night leads Furman to win

Stephen Croone had a career night Friday in Furman’s 86-83 victory over Liberty.

Croone scored 40 points, the first Furman player to score 40 in a game in more than 40 years, and hit 11-of-16 shots from the field.

The Newton graduate is the first Paladin to reach the 40-point mark since Roy Simpson scored 45 against East Carolina on February 5, 1972, according to furmanpaladins.com.

Croone, a sophomore guard, also grabbed a career-high 11 rebounds for his first double-double of the season and set the scoring record at 15-year old Timmons Arena.

Croone was a perfect 7-for-7 shooting in the first 20 minutes, and the last of his four 3-pointers (on four attempts) with 25 seconds left gave him 23 points and the Paladins a 43-32 halftime lead. He added 17 points in the second half, though despite Croone and William Gates each hitting a shot from behind the arc to put Furman (5-6) up 66-42 with 12:26 left in the game, Liberty (5-7) nearly came all the way back.

The visiting Flames chipped away and eventually got as close as 85-83 when Antwan Burrus hit a jumper for the last of his team-high 19 points at the 39-second mark.

Croone came into the week in the top-60 nationally in scoring, but his huge performance Friday, which improved his season scoring average from 19.3 to 21.2, should make the Covington native a top-30 scorer by week’s end.