NEWBERRY — Mitch Riggs and Byron Dickerson scored career highs as the Newberry Wolves closed out the regular season with their fourth straight win, taking an 85-83 victory over Lutheran rival Lenoir-Rhyne in Eleazer Arena on Saturday.
Newberry closes the regular season at 14-13 overall and 10-8 in the South Atlantic Conference and will be the sixth seed in next week’s Food Lion SAC Tournament. The Wolves will play at the third seed, with pairings officially announced later. Lenoir-Rhyne finishes the regular season at 18-8 overall and 11-7 in the league.
Riggs scored 21 points and connected on 6-of-10 three-point attempts. Dondray Walker scored 17 points and Brunes Charles had 12 points and six rebounds.
Dickerson had 10 points and four rebounds, while Aegir Steinarsson scored 10 points with four assists and three rebounds.
For L-R, Denzel Dillingham scored 29 points, R.J. McClure scored 20 points and Jarvis Perry netted had 13 points and six assists.
Both teams shot the ball well in the game, with the Bears making 57.4 percent (31-of-54) of their shots from the floor and the Wolves making 50 percent (28-of-56) of their field goals. Both teams made nine three-pointers in the game and the Bears made three more floor shots, but Newberry made eight more free throws in the game, going 20-of-31 (64.5 percent) from the charity stripe compared to the Bears’ 12-of-16 (75 percent) free throw effort.
The game was back-and-forth throughout, as the Bears never led by more than two points and Newberry could never stretch its advantage into double digits. There were four ties and eight lead changes.
Newberry scored the game’s first eight points on a pair of Riggs three-pointers and a layup from Xavier Holmes in the first minute and a half of the game. The Bears scored eight of the next nine points, with McClure’s fastbreak lay-in after a Perry steal cutting Newberry’s lead to one point. A pair of Dillingham free throws at the 13:25 mark tied the game back up at 15-all.
The Wolves led 20-17 at the 11:33 mark and went on a 6-0 run, with a Holmes free throw at the 9:02 mark giving the Wolves the largest lead of the game for either team at 26-17. The Wolves were still up nine before the Bears scored 10 straight, taking their first lead of the game with 4:22 left in the half on a Dillingham three-pointer.
Dillingham made a trio of treys for the Bears in the last few minutes, but the Wolves scored the final four points of the half. Dickerson connected on a layup with just under a minute left and Steinarsson beat the buzzer after a missed three with a layup to give Newberry a 44-40 halftime lead.
Riggs had 13 points in the half for Newberry, while Dillingham had 18 for the Bears. Newberry had a 15-12 rebounding advantage and conceded only one offensive board to the Bears. Newberry shot 53.3 percent (16-of-30) in the half, while L-R shot 61.5 percent (16-of-26) from the floor.
The Wolves got back out to a nine-point lead early in the second half on a Riggs triple and a pair of Charles layups, but L-R had the lead back down to three with just under 15 minutes left when Dillingham’s triple made it a 54-51 game. Newberry led by six at 60-54 with 13 minutes to go, but Lenoir-Rhyne answered with a 10-4 surge to tie it back up at 64-all with just under 11 minutes left.
A Riggs three-pointer at the 8:30 mark put Newberry’s lead back up to five points, but the Bears once again swung momentum in their favor, taking a 77-76 lead with five minutes left on a McClure three-pointer.
Walker answered with a triple of his own and followed it up with three free throws to push Newberry’s lead to 82-77 with three and a half minutes left. Newberry was unable to make a field goal for nearly the game’s last five minutes, but connected on clutch free throws.
L-R made four straight and trailed by just one with 1:11 left. Both sides turned the ball over on consecutive posessions before Charles made one free throw with about 12 seconds left. The Bears took two three-pointers in the final possession, but neither could connect, handing Newberry the win.
Newberry shot 46.2 percent (12-of-26) from the floor in the half, while Lenoir-Rhyne shot 53.6 percent (15-of-28) from the floor. Both teams made four three-pointers, but Newberry made 13 free throws to L-R’s nine.