WINGATE, N.C. — The Newberry Wolves came back from a halftime deficit to tie the game up with 8:21 to play, but the South Atlantic Conference-leading Wingate Bulldogs scored 23 of the game’s final 33 points to take a 78-65 win in Cuddy Arena on Wednesday night.
Newberry falls to 10-11 overall and 6-7 in the SAC, while Wingate is now 15-6 overall and 11-2 in the league. Newberry returns to the friendly confines of Eleazer Arena for its next two games, hosting Carson-Newman at 4 p.m. Saturday and Brevard at 8 p.m. next Wednesday.
Brandon Riley led the Wolves with 14 points, while Demarkus Smith and Dondray Walker each netted 12 points. Smith had the Wolves’ only four steals of the night.
For Wingate, five players scored in double figures, led by Paidrick Matilus’ 18 points and eight rebounds. Odell Turner scored 15 points, Ethan Kincaid scored 14 points, Jeff Parker scored 13 points and Eddie Lewis netted 12 points.
The hosts scored the first nine points of the game and had stretched the lead into double digits at 17-7 with 9:50 left in the first half. A Kincaid three-pointer with 4:28 left in the half pushed Wingate’s lead to 30-16 before Newberry surged back. The Wolves went on a 10-0 run with a pair of Smith triples and layups from Riley and Brunes Charles to cut the lead to four inside the final minute of the half. Matilus beat the halftime buzzer with a jumper to give WU a 32-26 lead at the break.
Smith had eight points to lead the Wolves at the break, as the scarlet and gray shot 36.7 percent (11-of-30) from the floor, 27.3 percent (3-of-11) from three-point range and 50.0 percent (1-of-2) at the charity stripe. Wingate made 44.8 percent (13-of-29) of its first half field goal attempts, 36.4 percent (4-of-11) of its three-pointers and 40.0 percent (2-of-5) of its free throws.
The two sides battled back and forth in the early stages of the second half, with Wingate pulling ahead by as many as nine points. The Bulldogs held a nine-point advantage at 55-46 with 10:07 to play before a 9-0 Newberry run.
A Byron Dickerson free throw, Riley three-point play and Walker three-pointer cut the lead to two points and Smith’s ensuing steal and fastbreak layup tied the game at 55-all with 8:21 left.
Unfortunately for the Wolves, the streak was answered by Wingate’s own 10-0 run over the next three minutes to put the lead in double figures for the first time in the second half on a pair of Matilus free throws with 5:08 to play to make it 65-55.
The hot shooting of the comeback run disappeared, as a Mitch Riggs three-pointer with 2:45 to play was Newberry’s only field goal in the final eight minutes of the contest. In that span, the Wolves missed nine field goal attempts and turned the ball over twice while grabbing only one offensive rebound. The final 10 points of Newberry’s game came on the Riggs triple and a combined 7-of-8 free throw shooting.
In the second half, Newberry made only 11-of-31 (35.5 percent) of its field goal attempts and 3-of-11 (27.3 percent) of its three-pointers, while still shooting a solid 82.4 percent (14-of-17) from the charity stripe. Wingate made 17-of-28 (60.7 percent) of its field goals, 4-of-9 (44.4 percent) of its three-pointers and 8-of-12 (66.7 percent) of its free throws, while holding a 21-15 rebounding advantage. Newberry only turned the ball over three times in the half, but two came in the drought of the final eight minutes.
For the game, Newberry shot 36.1 percent (22-of-61) from the floor, 27.3 percent (6-of-22) from long distance and 78.9 percent (15-of-19) from the charity stripe. Wingate shot 52.6 percent (30-of-57) from the floor, 40 percent (8-of-20) from the land of three and 58.8 percent (10-of-17) from the free throw line. The teams tied 37-all in rebounding, with Newberry committing only 10 turnovers to Wingate’s 12. WU blocked seven shots and had a 36-26 advantage in points in the paint.