NEWBERRY, S.C. - The Newberry College men's basketball team jumped out to a 26-point halftime lead en route to an emphatic 74-62 win over the visiting Tusculum College Pioneers on Wednesday. The win is the Indians' second consecutive victory in South Atlantic Conference action. Kendrick Johnson also broke the school's record for blocks in a season, as he has notched 47 blocks so far this season. Johnson, a redshirt sophomore from Orangeburg, S.C., set the previous record with 45 blocks last season.
Newberry (7-9, 2-4 SAC) was led by 14 points apiece from starters Clemente Martin (Freeoprt, Bahamas) and Vytautas Valiulis (Vilnius, Lithuania) as well as 14 off the bench from Grant Domsic (Winter Garden, Fla.).
Tusculum (8-9, 2-3 SAC) was paced by a double-double from Jordan Lear, who scored a game-high 23 points and grabbed eight rebounds. Lear was the only Pioneer in double digits.
The Indians started the game on fire, connecting on their first seven field goal attempts and first four free throws over the opening 5:52. After the two sides traded free throws to start the game 2-2, Newberry exploded for a 22-6 run, during which Johnson earned three of his four blocks for the night in just a minute and a half. The Pioneers stopped the bleeding temporarily in the middle of the period, but Newberry closed the half on a 22-3 run to take a 46-20 lead into the dressing rooms.
Newberry was 16-of-30 (53.3 percent) from the field in the opening half, with 22 of the 46 points coming from the reserves. Tusculum connected on only six of its 24 shots (25.0 percent) in the first half.
The early parts of the second half saw continued pressure from the Indians stretch the lead to as many as 31 points. The Pioneers rallied back against the Indian reserves to narrow the deficit to 11 points in the final seconds of the game, but the result was never in doubt, as the hosts emerged victorious.
The victory was Newberry's first home win in SAC play this year, thanks in part to a season-low nine turnovers. The Pioneers became only the third team to out-rebound Newberry this season, with a 35-30 advantage on the boards.
Newberry will look to take one more step towards evening its South Atlantic Conference record on Saturday in Salisbury, N.C., against the Catawba Indians at 4 p.m. Tusculum travels to Wingate University on Saturday for a 4 p.m. tip.