NEWBERRY, S.C. - The Newberry College men's basketball team was unable to come back from a 12-point second half deficit as the Indians lost to the Claflin University Panthers, 78-74, in non-conference action Saturday evening in Eleazer Arena.
Newberry (6-9 overall) was led by a 22-point performance from Clemente Martin (Freeport, Bahamas), his seventh 20-plus performance of the year. Vytautas Valiulis (Vilnius, Lithuania) scored 17 points and dished out five assists, while Stephane Bakinde (Yaounde, Cameroon) rounded out three Indians in double figures with 10 points.
Matt Alexander (Atlanta, Ga.) had a career-high eight assists, while Kendrick Johnson (Orangeburg, S.C.) scored eight points, grabbed seven rebounds and blocked five shots. It was Johnson's fourth five-plus block game this season.
Claflin (16-1) had four starters score in double digits, led by 21 points from Jerome Starr. Benjamin Lawmann score 14 points, Phillip Brown scored 13 and Karl Ray netted 12.
The Indians started the game off by nailing their first three shots to take an early 8-0 lead. Claflin crept back into the game and took its first lead with 8:28 until the break on a Starr jumper. Momentum swung back and forth the rest of the half, but it was the hosts who took the 28-27 lead into the locker room.
However, the Panthers jumped out quickly in the second half, opening the period on a 10-1 run to lead, 37-29, with 16:14 left in the game. The remainder of the game was filled with runs by each team. Newberry would narrow the margin to one possession, but Claflin would respond by pulling to double-digit leads.
The Panthers' largest lead came at the 3:56 mark, when a breakaway dunk by Starr gave Claflin a 68-56 lead. However, Starr was called for a technical foul for hanging on the rim, and the Indians used the foul shots to start an 8-0 run that brought the game within two possessions in the final two minutes. The Indians came within three with six seconds left, but were unable to pull out the win.
The Indians shot a solid 53.3 percent from the field (24-of-45), but the Panthers claimed the victory by taking 14 more shots than the home side (25-of-59, 42.4 percent). The two teams each had 32 total rebounds, but 17 of Claflin's boards came on the offensive end of the floor to give the visitors the extra opportunities to score and keep the lead late.
Newberry returns to South Atlantic Conference play Wednesday against Tusculum (8-8, 2-2 SAC). The Pioneers and Indians will tip off at approximately 8 p.m. in Eleazer Arena as the second game of a doubleheader with the women's teams from the two schools.