NEWBERRY, S.C. – The Newberry men’s basketball team made “Senior Night” very special for six players on the Indian squad, as they upset favored Lenoir-Rhyne 77-62 at Eleazer Arena Wednesday night. Newberry improves to 8-18 on the season and 3-10 in the South Atlantic Conference, while the loss drops Lenoir-Rhyne to 15-10 and 9-4 in the SAC.
While starting all the seniors on their final home game is usually merely a symbolic gesture, the Indian seniors made their time in the spotlight count, as they helped race Newberry to a 12-7 lead over the first 4:05. Pacing the Indians during this run was seldom used reserve Jack Easterby (Columbia, S.C.) who hit a pair of trifectas. Those six points were a career-high for Easterby.
The Bears of L-R raced back after the initial Newberry run to knot the game at 20 with less than ten minutes to go in the half. The Indians were not deterred however, as they put together a 13-0 run spanning just over five minutes to help Newberry go into intermission up 36-24.
One would be remiss talking about the opening stanza without mentioning the play of Indian forward Eric Nwawel (Cameroon, Africa), as the fans at Eleazer watched as he recorded 12 of his 15 total points in the first half. Remarkably, Nwawel did almost all of his damage from the charity stripe, going 10-for-10 from the line. As a team for the game, Newberry went 25-for-28 from the foul line, a season-high free throw percentage for the Indians.
The Indians were able to hold L-R’s Roman Davis (Greensboro, N.C.), the SAC’s leading scorer at 18.2 ppg, to just six points in the first half. The Bears shot a dismal 28.1% from the floor in the half, while Newberry hit a robust 40.9% of its shot attempts. For the game, Newberry was able to hold L-R to 38.6% shooting.
The Bears came out in the second half with something to prove, as L-R opened with a 13-4 run to cut the Newberry lead to 42-37 with 16:08 left in regulation. After a timeout called by Newberry head coach Shaun Golden, the Indians regrouped with an 18-10 run of their own to put the game out of reach of the Bears.
Nwawel led Newberry with 15 points, while L-R’s Davis had a game-high 18. Newberry seniors Reggie Coleman (Orangeburg, S.C.) and Elijah Frasier (Irmo, S.C.) had 14 and 13, respectively. Another senior having a big game for the Indians was forward Ben Hooker (Columbia, S.C.), who notched a season-high nine points in the win.
The Bears point guard Josh Rudder (Graham, S.C.) was the only other Lenoir-Rhyne player in double figures with 13 points.
Newberry will finish its regular season at Mars Hill College this Saturday afternoon at 4 p.m., while Lenoir-Rhyne’s season finale will take place at Tusculum, also at 4 p.m. on Saturday