NEWBERRY, S.C. – The Catawba Indians hit eight-of-nine free throws down the stretch to dispatch of Newberry 63-54 in men’s basketball Wednesday night. The Indians of Newberry drop to 7-14 on the season and 2-7 in the South Atlantic Conference. Catawba continues to be in the SAC driver’s seat with an 18-4 overall record, and an 8-1 record in the SAC.
While the final spread was nine points, the score was not indicative of how close this game really was, as both teams were knotted at 50 with just over five minutes left in the second half. But Catawba would outscore Newberry 13-4 to close out the game, doing most of their damage from the charity stripe.
Catawba came out of the gate hot, using an 10-2 run midway through the first half to build an 18-9 lead. In turn, Newberry responded with a run of their own, 13-3 over a span of 2:12 to tie the game at 21 apiece. Catawba regrouped to head into the intermission up six, 35-29. Catawba’s Andy Thomson (Norfolk, Va.) paced the Indians from the North in the opening stanza, scoring all eight of his points in the first half. Thomson also collected a team-high nine rebounds for the game. For Newberry it was a very balanced attack in the first half, as eight players scored and no one tallied over five points.
In the second half, Newberry was led by forward Eric Nwawel (Cameroon, Africa), who scored seven points and collected five boards. For the game, Nwawel notched his first double-double of the season with 12 points and 10 rebounds. Nwawel also had a game-high two blocked shots.
With just over ten minutes left in regulation, Corey Etheridge (Columbia, S.C.) buried a three-pointer to give Newberry their first lead of the game at 46-44. Etheridge finished with six points, going 2-for-2 from beyond the three-point arc. But Catawba would pick away at the lead by hitting 3-of-4 free throws, and never looked back.
Both teams struggled shooting in the second half, as neither Indian team was able to break the 30 percent barrier. The difference on the night was foul shooting, as Catawba went 22-of-29 from the line, while Newberry only converted 12-of-20 opportunities.
Newberry’s Michael Dease (Bennettsville, S.C.) led the Indians is scoring for the fourth straight contest, notching 13 and collecting four boards. Catawba’s Helgi Magnusson (Reykjavik, Iceland) led Catawba in scoring with 13. Magnusson also collected seven boards. Catawba point guard Brian Graves (Newport News, Va.) finished with 11 points.
Both teams are back in conference action this Saturday, as Newberry tries to win on the road at Wingate, and Catawba travels to Greenville, Tenn. to do battle with Tusculum. Both games are slated for a 4 p.m. tipoff.