Newberry erases 22-point second-half deficit at Lenoir-Rhyne


Courtesy: Newberry Athletics

HICKORY, N.C. (Newberry SID)  Down but never out, Newberry embarked on a comeback for the ages Wednesday night at Lenoir-Rhyne, erasing a 22-point deficit on its way to an 80-75 triumph at Shuford Gymnasium to earn its fourth win in the last five meetings with the Bears.

The Wolves (8-4, 4-3 South Atlantic Conference) trailed 46-24 on Lenoir-Rhyne’s (5-7, 4-3) first field goal of the second half, but used a pair of Marshall Lange free throws and a Gerald Evans triple to chip away at the deficit. Newberry continued clawing its way back into the contest as the second half wore on, surging to within single digits with 4:33 to play on a James Stepp triple, before recording the game’s first tie in the waning seconds of the second half.

Lenoir-Rhyne led for an astounding 39 minutes and 38.6 seconds of regulation—all but the first 19 seconds, in which there was no score, and the final 2.4 seconds, after the 5-foot-5 Gerald Evans completed the comeback by slashing into the paint for a bucket to send the game to an extra session.

The Wolves outscored the homestanding Bears 7-2 in the overtime period, a stark contrast from last January’s 133-122 overtime win at Eleazer Arena that saw the Wolves set an all-time Division II record with 28 points in the extra frame, to score the improbable victory. Newberry closed the game on a 56-29 run spanning over 24-and-a-half minutes of the second half and overtime, holding Lenoir-Rhyne to a dismal 1-for-9 performance from the field in the overtime period to pull away for the win.

Newberry has now won three straight and and seven of its last 10 contests, including a 107-102 upset at 2016 Division II runner-up and 23rd-ranked Lincoln Memorial in its last game action 18 days ago.

Stepp showed the way for Newberry, pouring in 27 points on 9-for-20 from the field. He scored 21 points after the break to help Newberry to a 49-30 advantage in the second half. All but one of his shot attempts came from beyond the arc.

Gerald Evans added 16 in support of Stepp, none bigger than the game-tying layup in the final seconds. Six other Wolves tallied at least four points apiece as 12 total Newberry players saw action. Xavier Hill led all players with 10 rebounds.

Newberry earned the victory despite shooting below 40 percent from the field for just the third time this season. The nation’s second-leading scoring offense was limited to 21 points below its season average. While Lenoir-Rhyne shot at a higher clip, and made more field goals overall, the Wolves held the advantage beyond the arc and at the free throw line.

Not known for its rebounding prowess, Newberry outrebounded the Bears 50-35 on the evening. The Wolves did their best work on the offensive glass, turning 20 offensive boards into a hefty 20-7 advantage in second-chance points.

The Wolves return home Saturday afternoon to host Tusculum, which sits one slot behind Newberry in the South Atlantic Conference standings. Tipoff from Eleazer Arena is slated for 4:00 p.m.

Categories: Local Sports, Sports