GREENEVILLE, Tenn. - The Newberry College men's basketball team's late comeback effort fell just short, as the Tusculum College Pioneers prevailed, 71-63, in Pioneer Arena Wednesday night.
Newberry (11-13, 4-8 SAC) connected on only 2-of-16 three-point attempts in the game, making the comeback effort tougher. Clemente Martin (Freeport, Bahamas) was the high point man for the Indians with 17 points, while Stephane Bakinde (Yaounde, Cameroon) scored 16 points and had eight rebounds.
Tusculum (11-14, 5-8 SAC) leapfrogs Newberry in the conference standings and was led by 26 points from Kyle Moore. Lavonti Jeter scored 17 points and Jordan Lear netted 16 points.
The Pioneers opened the game on fire, scoring the first 14 points of the game. Newberry didn't score its first point of the game until Matt Alexander connected on a free throw at the 12:49 mark. The Indians' first field goal came on a Ty Overmyer putback at the 11:52 mark which cut the Pioneer lead to 17-3.
However, despite the cold shooting (30 percent) in the opening 20 minutes, Newberry only trailed by nine points at the break, 29-20. No Indian scored more than one field goal in the opening half, while only three Pioneers scored in the first period.
The Pioneers shot the lights out in the second half, connecting on 59.1 percent (13-of-22) of their shots to help hold off a late Newberry rally.
With Tusculum leading by 15 at the 5:45 mark, the Indians mounted a comeback. Newberry chipped away at the lead and went on a 7-0 run after the 2:23 mark to narrow the margin to five points with 1:37 to play.
The Indians used a Martin steal to setup a Matt Alexander layup and cut the margin to three points with 27 seconds left. However two fouls, a missed layup and a late turnover prevented the Indians from successfully executing the comeback.
Newberry outrebounded Tusculum by a 35-26 margin, but the Pioneers' shooting was too much to overcome.
The Indians look to rebound strong against the Wingate Bulldogs in the penultimate conference game of the season. Saturday's game in Eleazer Arena is slated for a 4 p.m. tip.