GREENEVILLE, Tenn. — The Newberry Wolves sprinted out to a double-digit lead before the first media timeout of the game and never trailed on the way to a 96-80 South Atlantic Conference victory over the Tusculum Pioneers on Saturday.
The Wolves move to 6-0 to start the season for the first time since 2007-08 and only the second time since the 1981-82 season. Newberry is also 4-0 in SAC play heading to rival Anderson on Dec. 7, following the break for finals week. Tusculum falls to 1-7 overall and 0-4 in the league.
Demarkus Smith led the Wolves with 19 points, eight rebounds and four steals as five Wolves scored in double figures.
Cole Birchfield made four three-pointers on the way to 19 points, while Dondray Walker also netted four long distance shots en route to 17 points and four rebounds.
Xavier Holmes had 13 points, eight rebounds, three assists and three steals, while Gerald Evans rounded out Newberry’s double digit scorers with 12 points, seven assists and four steals.
Tusculum was led by a 22-points, 12-rebound double-double by Keith Jumper. Darius Carter scored 15 points and Addison Flynn scored 12.
Newberry forced 20 Pioneer turnovers in the game, with 17 resulting in Newberry steals. The Wolves also had 20 assists on 29 made baskets.
Birchfield and Walker connected on three-pointers inside the first minute of the game and kickstarted an early Newberry surge, with the Wolves jumping out to a 24-8 lead in the first seven minutes of the contest.
The first 20-point advantage of the game came at the 8:54 mark of the half on a pair of Walker free throws to make it a 32-12 lead. Tusculum fought back thanks to success at the free throw line, getting the deficit down to 11 points in the final two minutes before Newberry took a 51-36 lead into the locker room.
Newberry connected on 13-of-32 (40.6 percent) of its first half shots with six three pointers and a 19-of-25 (76.0 percent) success rate at the free throw line. Tusculum made 10-of-28 (35.7 percent) of its first half field goal attempts, missing all seven three-point chances and making 16-of-25 (64.0 percent) of its free throws.
The two teams were nearly even in the second half, with Newberry outscoring the hosts 45-44. Newberry made eight shots from inside the three-point arc and eight shots from outside it and only went to the free throw line eight times. Tusculum shot 51.9 percent (14-of-27) from the field and made 13-of-19 (68.4 percent) of its free throws in the half.
All told, both teams shot just under 44 percent from the field, though Newberry took 66 shots to Tusculum’s 55. The teams combined for 77 free throws with the Wolves making 24-of-33 (72.7 percent) and the Pioneers making 29-of-44 (65.9 percent). Newberry canned 14-of-39 (35.9 percent) of its three-pointers.