NEWBERRY — The Newberry Wolves never trailed Wednesday night in a wire-to-wire 87-80 win over the Queens Royals in Eleazer Arena to complete the season sweep over the conference newcomers.
Newberry moves to 16-7 overall and 12-7 in the South Atlantic Conference with the win entering the final three games of the regular season. Queens falls to 12-11 overall and 10-9 in league play. The Wolves travel to Mars Hill for their next game on Saturday afternoon.
Dondray Walker led all scorers in the contest with 20 points while also grabbing six rebounds and passing out a game-high five assists.
Mitch Riggs netted four three-pointers on the way to a 19-point night with four rebounds as the Wolves’ only other double-digit scorer.
The Wolves scored the first five points of the game and quickly surged to a double digit lead in the first four minutes of the contest at 13-3. A triple from Demarkus Smith at the 13:36 mark pushed the scarlet and gray’s lead to 16-3.
The Royals didn’t turn on the tens category on the scoreboard until nine and a half minutes of game had elapsed, but the guests’ 8-2 run in the middle of the period brought the lead back down to single digits at 25-16 with 9:18 left. Riggs made a triple on the next possession for Newberry and the Wolves never fell back under an 11-point lead in the rest of the half, taking a 44-33 lead into the locker room.
Newberry shot 15-of-37 (40.5 percent) from the field while Queens made 38.5 percent (10-of-26) of its field goals but stuck around with 12 free throws. Riggs made a trio of three-pointers in the period.
The Wolves exploded out of the locker room and pushed to their largest lead of the game at 56-38 on a pair of free throws from Brunes Charles at the 15-minute mark. Queens rallied from there, scoring the game’s next 12 points and holding the Wolves off of the scoreboard for nearly four minutes.
The trio of Walker, Smith and Riggs rescued the Wolves from the brink with three-pointers to get back up to a 15-point lead at 65-50 with 10:34 to play.
Queens made it interesting in the late going, cutting the Newberry advantage down to six points in the final minute after the Wolves were up by 16 with six minutes left. The Wolves made the needed free throws when intentionally fouled to hold onto the win.
Queens seven-footer Nkosi Ali was the Royals’ go-to man in the second half with 16 points and 11 rebounds in the half, helping the guests shoot 50.0 percent (21-of-42) in the half.
The Wolves’ rock-steady free throw shooting was helpful again, as they made 84.6 percent (11-of-13) of their shots from the charity stripe in the period, while Queens made only 4-of-10.
For the game, Newberry made 17-of-20 (85.0 percent) of its free throws, marking the fourth straight game with over 80 percent completion at the charity stripe. The Wolves met that mark only three times in the previous 18 games.