MARS HILL, N.C. — Xavier Holmes scored 20 points to lead the Newberry Wolves to their fourth straight win as the scarlet and gray took an 88-75 victory from the Mars Hill Lions in Stanford Arena on Wednesday night.
With the win, Newberry moves over .500 for the first time this season at 9-8 overall and 5-4 in the South Atlantic Conference. Mars Hill falls to 3-14 overall and 0-9 in the league. Newberry travels to Hickory, N.C., for its next game - a 6 p.m. Saturday tip off at Lutheran rival Lenoir-Rhyne (13-4, 6-3 SAC).
Holmes was Newberry’s leading scorer with 20 points on 8-of-9 shooting from the field and 4-of-5 free throws. He also had five rebounds.
Demarkus Smith kept up his string of excellent play with 15 points, seven rebounds, two steals and no turnovers. Dondray Walker netted 14 points with five steals, four rebounds and four assists.
For Mars Hill, Kacey Holt had a double-double with 21 points and 10 rebounds, while Khouriachi Thiam had a 10-point, 13-rebound double-double. Jalen Witherspoon scored 15 and Carter Wright scored 11 points.
The Lions scored the first five points of the game and still had a five-point lead with 15:22 left in the first half at 13-8. Newberry tied the game on a three-pointer from Mitch Riggs and a layup from Brunes Charles and a pair of Smith free throws with 13:06 left in the half gave Newberry its first lead of the game at 15-13.
Smith’s fastbreak triple with 10:22 left in the half gave the Wolves a 22-17 lead before Mars Hill surged. The hosts scored the next 12 points, capped by a Thiam fastbreak dunk to swing the lead to 29-22 in Mars Hill’s favor with 7:18 to play in the period. The Lions still held a seven-point lead with six minutes to play before the Wolves went on a run of their own, scoring 17 consecutive points.
A dunk from Walker, a layup from Byron Dickerson (Atlanta, Ga.) and a Riggs trey tied the game at 31-all with 3:46 left. A fastbreak layup from Holmes and a Charles three-point play were followed by a three-pointer and a putback from Smith to give the Wolves the largest lead of the half at 41-31 with just under two minutes left in the half.
Newberry carried a 44-36 lead into the halftime break.
At the beginning of the second half, the Lions were once again the aggressors, jumping out to a lead. MHC’s 11-2 run was capped by a three-point play by Holt to give the Lions a 47-46 lead at the 17:15 mark. The Wolves restored order with a Holmes layup, a Quayshun Hawkins free throw and a Smith triple to make it a 52-47 Wolves lead with 15:48 to play.
The Lions stayed within arm’s reach for the next eight minutes and only trailed 70-67 with eight minutes to play before the Wolves turned it on. A 14-1 Newberry run was broken up by a solitary free throw, with a Holmes fastbreak layup at the 4:34 mark pushing the scarlet and gray’s lead out to 84-68. A pair of free throws from Aegir Steinarsson two possessions later would give Newberry its largest lead of the night at 86-68. The pace slowed from there, as the Wolves needed only one more field goal to hold on for another road win.