WINGATE, N.C — The sixth-seeded Newberry Wolves took a halftime lead over the third-seeded Wingate Bulldogs in the quarterfinals of the Food Lion South Atlantic Conference Tournament on Wednesday, but a seven-point Bulldog run in the second half would give the hosts an 83-77 win.
Newberry finishes its season at 14-13 overall, earning a winning record the second consecutive season. It is the first back-to-back winning seasons since the then-Indians had 11 straight winning records from 1971-72 to 1981-82. Wingate advances to the semifinals with a 19-8 mark.
“We played one of the best games of the year and Wingate made great plays down the stretch,” said coach Dave Davis. “I was quite pleased with our performance. Mitch Riggs was hurt and played unbelievable. Aegir Steinarsson and Dondray Walker both played their best basketball at the end of the year when we won four of five games and were outstanding vs. Wingate. We ended the season on a high note and with everyone on our team back, we are extremely excited about next season.”
Second team all-SAC selection Walker led the Wolves with 21 points, seven rebounds, three assists and two steals without a turnover. SAC All-Freshman team member Riggs had 17 points, five rebounds and three steals, while Steinarsson had 17 points, six assists, five rebounds and a steal.
Newberry lit up the scoreboard from the outside in the first half, connecting on 10 three-pointers out of 13 attempts for a 76.9 shooting percentage. The Wolves added five two-point field goals for a 15-of-28 (53.6 percent) percentage.
Unfortunately for the Wolves, their two-point halftime lead was as large as their lead could get in the period, thanks to 19 points in the half from the Bulldogs’ Paidrick Matilus, who finished the game with 30 points.
Newberry led 41-39 at the break and took a four-point lead on a layup by Brunes Charles early in the half. From there, Wingate went on a 12-3 run to get out to a 51-46 lead with just under 16 minutes to play.
A Walker triple and a free throw and basket from Byron Dickerson gave the Wolves a 52-51 lead with 12 and a half minutes left. Back-to-back treys from James Ashby and Steinarsson with just over 11 minutes to play gave the Wolves their largest lead of the game at 58-53.
Newberry held the lead until the 8:11 mark, when a Ryan Daye three-pointer tied the game at 65-all. The game was still tied at 69-all with just under six minutes left when Wingate went on a 7-1 surge to lead 76-70 with three minutes remaining.
Demarkus Smith nailed a three-pointer inside the final minute to cut the deficit to three points, but Newberry was forced to foul in an attempt to regain possession and Wingate went 3-for-4 from the charity stripe in the final 20 seconds to seal the win, while Newberry missed two three-pointers.
Newberry shot 12-of-30 (40.0 percent) in the second half and 5-of-15 (33.3 percent) from three-point territory. Wingate connected on 53.6 percent of its second half shots and missed only one free throw in the entire game.