NEWBERRY — The Newberry Wolves followed career nights from Dondray Walker and Demarkus Smith to give the Coker Cobras a rude welcome to South Atlantic Conference basketball with an 89-83 win in Eleazer Arena on Wednesday.
With the win, Newberry moves to 3-0 overall and 1-0 in SAC play while knocking Coker to 2-1 overall and 0-1 in the league. Both of Coker’s previous wins had come against 2013 NCAA Tournament teams. Newberry travels to Brevard on Saturday.
Walker tied his career high with 31 points on the strength of a 5-of-6 night from behind the three-point arc while also making 10 free throws. He also had seven rebounds and two steals.
Smith established a new career high with 21 points, grabbed eight rebounds and dished out three assists.
Also in double digits for the Wolves were Xavier Holmes, who had 12 points and eight rebounds, and Brandon Taylor with 10 points and five boards.
Coker was led by 21 points and six rebounds from defending SAC Player of the Week Larry Felder, while Sharod Williams had a double-double with 11 points and 10 rebounds. Errick Bethel had 15 points and snagged eight steals, while Julian Nelson scored 14 points.
The game was tightly contested throughout, never giving either team a sense of comfort. Newberry’s eight-point lead in the waning seconds of the game was the largest for either team in the contest, while there were 14 lead changes and eight ties.
At halftime, the Wolves held a 41-40 lead but the break energized the Cobras. With 7:06 to play, Coker had a seven-point advantage at 68-61 before the scarlet and gray went on an 8-1 surge, tying the game at 69-all on a Walker triple with 5:25 to play.
The Cobras led as late as the 3:35 mark with a 76-74 lead, but another Walker trey on the ensuing possession followed by a Smith jumper in the paint gave Newberry the lead for good.
Newberry shot 47.4 percent (27-of-57) from the field in the game with a 50.0 percent mark (13-of-26) in the second half. Coker shot 50.0 percent (17-of-34) in the first half, but only 38.7 percent (12-of-31) in the second stanza.