NEWBERRY, S.C. – Just one day after a deflating loss at the hand of Southern Wesleyan, the Newberry Indians ran past Mars Hill at Eleazer Arena 64-57 in men’s basketball action Thursday night. The Indians improve to 6-14 overall and 1-6 in the South Atlantic Conference, while the Lions fall to 9-13 overall and 2-5 in the SAC.
Not only was this the first conference win of the season for Newberry, but it also marked first year head coach Shaun Golden’s first SAC victory. It was also the first home win for the Indians since December 2nd against Brevard College.
For a while in the first half, however, it looked liked the Lions would cruise to their third conference win of the season. Mars Hill dominated the first half, heading into intermission up 33-24, largely due to the inside presence Walt Baxley (Winston-Salem, N.C.). Baxley scored 15 of his team-high 22 in the first half.
The Indians had other plans on this night, outscoring the Lions 40-24 in the final stanza. Newberry was led by Michael Dease (Bennettsville, S.C.), who turned in a gutsy performance. Dease, who had to leave the game for a spell after re-aggravating a nagging ankle injury, led all scorers with 23 points, with 12 coming beyond the three-point arc.
Mars Hill couldn’t miss in the first half, but were held to a 7-for-24 shooting performance in the second half. Conversely, Newberry shot a paltry 34 percent in the first, but regrouped to shoot an improved 41 percent in the final period.
Indian point guard Elijah Frasier (Irmo, S.C.) also had an outstanding game, notching 17 points and a game-high three assists.
Indian center Adam Howell (Seneca, S.C.) created a defensive masterpiece, pulling down a team-high nine boards and a season-high five blocked shots. Forward Eric Nwawel (Cameroon, Africa) broke through an offensive slump by scoring eight and collecting seven boards.
Mars Hill forward Jeremiah Tinch (Calhoun Falls, S.C.) was the only other Lion player to notch double figures, scoring 11 points. Tinch matched his point total with a game-high 11 boards, giving him his 13th double-double of the season.
Newberry is back in action this Saturday at Carson-Newman, as the second portion of the SAC schedule begins. The game is scheduled for an 8 p.m. tipoff. Mars Hill travels to Clinton, S.C. for 4 p.m. matchup with Presbyterian.