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Catawba men fall to Newberry, 98-87

Catawba College

NEWBERRY, S.C. — A furious Catawba rally came up short in the end and host Newberry came away with a 98-87 win in an opening-round game of the South Atlantic Conference tournament Wednesday night at Eleazer Arena.

The third-seeded Wolves improve to 20-9 and advance to Saturday’s semifinals.  The Catawba Indians end their season at 14-15.

Catawba tried to stage a comeback for the ages.  The Indians trailed by 33 early in the second half and were down 79-56 with eight minutes to play. The Indians got hot, canning nine straight shots, and cutting the deficit to seven with 2:48 to go. Catawba had a chance to get closer, but a three-pointer from KJ Arrington was off the mark and the Wolves went 9-of-10 at the line down the stretch to hold on.

Jameel Taylor  netted a career-high 26 points for the Indians, while Arrington scored 22 of his 23 points after the break.  Jerrin Morrison  also reached double figures with 16 points.

Newberry got off to a hot start, leading by double digits midway through the first half.  The Wolves hit on 56 percent in the opening half, while Catawba connected on just 28 percent.  The Indians also committed 13 turnovers in falling behind 51-24 at the break.

When Xavier Hill hit a three-pointer with 16:29 remaining, Newberry had pulled out to a 66-33 advantage. The Indians made a small run to get within 20, but a layup from Mitch Riggs at the 8:22 mark gave Newberry a 79-56 lead.

After the under-eight media timeout, Morrison got Catawba going with a three-point play.  Arrington hit back-to-back jumpers to cut the deficit to 18. A 3-pointer by Arrington with 5:43 left made it 81-70 and he brought Catawba to within single digits at 87-78 on a three-pointer with 3:14 to go.

A blocked shot by Troy Warren led to a Taylor layup with 2:48 left and Catawba was down just 87-80.  After a Newberry miss, Arrington missed on his three-point attempt and Newberry hit two free throws.  Taylor’s two free throws with 1:41 to go kept the deficit at seven, but Catawba didn’t score again until Arrington’s layup with 37 seconds remaining.

Catawba hit on 58 percent in the second half and had just four turnovers. Taylor hit on 10-of-16 shots and blocked six shots.  Newberry enjoyed a 47-35 edge on the glass.

Riggs led five double-figure scorers for the Wolves with 26 points. Demarkus Smith added 19 points and Xavier Holmes came off the bench to tally 18 points. Smith did most of his damage at the line where he went 11-of-12.

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