HICKORY, N.C. – Rob Valentine was an offensive spectacle as he tallied his first career double-double in the Wolves 89-82 loss to conference rival Lenoir-Rhyne.
Valentine led all players on both sides of the court with 29 points and 11 rebounds in the contest. The feat signaled the eighth time this season Valentine crossed the 20+ point threshold and the 11 boards marked a career-high.
His performance began on the first possession with Valentine knocking down a three with only 11 ticks leaving the clock. Seventy seconds later it was Valentine again from beyond the arc to set the tone for the Newberry offense.
Another trey and a layup would round out Valentine’s first half as he would head into halftime shooting 4-for-6 from the field accumulating 11 points.
While the offense struggled in the second half, Valentine remained effective scoring 15 of the Wolves’ last 24 points in the final 10 minutes. He also excelled defensively during the second stanza grabbing eight rebounds to push him into double-figures.
Newberry outrebounded the Bears 38-36 resulting in 12 second chance points. Both teams tied with 30 defensive boards, but the Wolves gained the slight edge in offensive rebounds with eight compared to Lenoir-Rhyne’s six.
The Wolves were unstoppable from downtown during the first half connecting on 11-for-15 for a 73.3% clip. After Valentine’s back-to-back treys gave the Wolves the early 6-0 advantage an offensive barrage from beyond the arc continued to extend Newberry’s lead. A trey from James Stepp gave the Wolves a 16-point separation at the seven-minute mark to make it 36-20, their largest lead of the game. Lenoir-Rhyne went on a 13-7 run to close the half, but Newberry headed into halftime up 43-33.
Five Wolves connected from deep in the first with Stepp remaining perfect from long range with four treys.
Valentine had help from Stepp who posted 19 points and was the only other Newberry player to finish the game in double figures. The dynamic duo combined for 48 of the team’s 82 points.
Jabrie Bullard chipped in six points, seven rebounds, four assists and was part of a three way tie for blocks with Xavier Hill and Jamaal Satisfield.
Lenoir-Rhyne maintained their momentum from the end of the first to go on a 17-7 run to tie the game at 50 apiece with 15:34 left on the clock. Both teams fought for the advantage with eight ties and nine lead changes occurring in the second half. Newberry struggled offensively shooting 28.1% from the field and converting on only three of fourteen attempts from deep. An 8-2 run from the Bears made it 78-73 with 2:32 remaining, but the difference proved to much as the Wolves were unable to complete a comeback.
Newberry had to rely on their starters as the Wolves only had 10 points off the bench compared to 33 from the Bears.
The Wolves will continue their road trip with a visit to No. 1 Lincoln Memorial on Saturday, February 3 at 4:00 p.m.