SALISBURY, N.C. - After beginning the conference slate at 0-4 in head coach Jeremy Luther's inaugural season as head coach, the Newberry College Indians needed to finish the first half of the league schedule strong to set themselves up for a top four finish in the league. The Indians (8-9, 3-4 SAC) did just that with a 92-82 defeat of Catawba College for their third consecutive conference victory and first win in Goodman Gym since 2004.
Junior forward Clemente Martin (Freeport, Bahamas) led the team with a career-best 29 points, including thunderous dunks on six of Newberry's final seven buckets to close out the game. The 92 points by the Indians is the Newberry's highest point total this season.
Stephane Bakinde (Yaounde, Cameroon) added 15 points, nine rebounds and eight assists, while Matt Alexander (Atlanta, Ga.) scored 15 points and grabbed five boards.
Vytautas Valiulis (Vilnius, Lithuania) rounded out the Indians' double digit scorers with 12 points while adding eight assists - seven of which came in the opening six minutes of the game. Ty Overmyer (Dawsonville, Ga.) also chipped in
Catawba (11-7, 3-3 SAC) was led by SAC Player of the Week Antonio Houston's 18 points, while four other Catawba Indians scored in double figures.
Newberry started the game with hot shooting, which has been a hallmark of recent Newberry basketball games. With 10:52 to play in the opening half, a Bakinde triple gave Newberry a 31-19 lead. However, the hosts quickly turned things around, taking a 34-33 lead with 6:03 before the break on a Matthew Sossamon layup.
From there, the two teams traded buckets back and forth, and a Donzell Williams layup just before the buzzer gave Catawba a 48-46 lead going into the locker room. Both teams shot 50 percent or better in the opening half.
Martin tied the game up with a layup on the first possession of the second half and another Martin layup with 16:13 to go gave Newberry a lead it would never give up.
With 7:58 to play, Newberry only led by three, but an 11-0 run over the next two and a half minutes put the game out of reach.
As the end of the game drew near, Catawba tried to nail triples and get back into the game, but the Clemente Martin dunkfest prevented any chance of a Catawba comeback. Six straight Newberry buckets came on thunderous dunks from the Bahamian.
Newberry's statistical dominance came from all facets of the scoresheet. The Indians dished out 23 assists to only 11 turnovers. Newberry also forced 18 Catawba turnovers while shooting 32-of-62 (51.6 percent) from the floor.
The Indians also excelled at the charity stripe, connecting on 20 of 25 chances (80.0 percent) for Newberry's best free throw percentage of the season.
Newberry will look to wrap up the first trip through the league schedule with a matchup against provisional SAC member Brevard on Wednesday night in Eleazer Arena. Catawba begins a two-week road trip with a visit to Carson-Newman.