November 15, 2011

Newberry Rallies Late, Take Down Saints 85-83

Contact: David Beall,

NEWBERRY, SC – The North Georgia men's basketball dropped their first game of the season on Tuesday evening as Newberry College overcame a late deficit and emerged with an 85-83 victory at Eleazer Arena in non-conference action.

The Saints (2-1) drop their first game of the year in their first contest on the road, while Newberry bounces back from their first defeat and improve to 2-1 on the young season. 

The Wolves opened the first half with all the momentum, scoring the game's first four points, as Savad Gardner was responsible for all the early offense, scoring a layup and a pair of free throws to give Newberry a 4-0 lead.

The Saints fought back over the next five minutes however, and eventually took their first lead of the game at the 15:50 mark on an Elijah Smith layup to make it 8-7. 

After the lead changed hands two more times, North Georgia captured their biggest lead of the first half with 11:49 remaining on a Victor Holder layup, extending the Saints' advantage to 18-14.

The four-point lead for North Georgia lasted just 90 seconds however, as the Wolves cashed in on back-to-back buckets, including a three-pointer from Shamel Akins to give Newberry the lead right back, this time at 19-18. 

The up and down, fast paced first half continued over the next seven minutes and the score changed hands just as much, but the Wolves opened up the largest lead of the half with 2:39 remaining, using a long ball from Matt Dixon to create an eight-point advantage at 37-29.

The Saints refused to go away before the half, putting together a 10-1 run to retake the lead at 39-38 with under one minute to play, but Newberry had a wide open look at the buzzer and converted to take a one point lead heading to intermission. 

Newberry wasted little time grabbing the momentum in the second half, as they utilized the sharp shooting from behind the arc and grabbed a nine-point lead at 50-41 with 16:23 remaining in the game.

North Georgia then came up with some much-needed production off the bench and used a 12-3 run over the next three minutes to pull even and make it 53-53. The nine-point swing was sparked by back-to-back layups on consecutive possessions from Michael Varrichione and a pair of assists from Travis Core

The Saints took their first lead of the second half at the 11:54 mark when Chaun Tinney drove the lane, drew a foul, and knocked down a pair of free throws to give North Georgia a 59-58 lead.

North Georgia led by as many as six points before the Saints were whistled for a handful of fouls in a two minute span and the Wolves capitalized at the free throw line to tie the game and eventually take the lead with less than a minute to play. 

The Saints had a chance to tie the game down by two points with 20 seconds remaining, and North Georgia called on Elijah Smith who was double teamed. Smith attacked the basket, going over the defender, but a no call gave Newberry the ball and a two-point victory.

Three North Georgia players finished in double figures, led by a team-high 19 points from Tinney, including a perfect 12-12 performance from the charity stripe. Clarence Tillman added 17 points and six rebounds, while Tyler Norman tallied 11 points and three steals off the bench. 

The Saints will have a full week off before returning home and welcoming nearby Truett-McConnell to town for another non-conference showdown. Tip-off in Memorial Hall is slated for 7:30 p.m.