Defensive Effort Carries Trojans Past Newberry

Defensive Effort Carries Trojans Past Newberry

NEWBERRY, S.C. – Behind a stellar defensive effort that saw the Trojans hold Newberry to its lowest point total in four years, the Anderson University men's basketball team wrapped up the month of January with a 61-51 win over the Wolves in South Atlantic Conference action, Saturday night at Eleazer Arena.

Anderson (9-11, 7-7 SAC) claimed its second straight win and swept the season series with the Wolves for the fourth time in six years, while moving into a tie for seventh place with the Wolves in the conference standings. Newberry (12-8, 7-7 SAC), which leads the SAC and is fourth in the nation in scoring, suffered its fourth consecutive loss.

Sophomore guard Shawn Benard led all scorers with 14 points, while swiping a career-high four steals and equaling a career-high by dishing out a game-best eight assists. Sophomore forward Jeremy Bouton added 13 points, including 11 in the second half, while freshman guard Christian Jeffords chipped in 10 points and grabbed a career-high six rebounds. Freshman center Carlos Dotson pulled down a game-high nine rebounds.

First Half
Both teams got off to a start befitting the cold wind outside the arena, as they combined for four turnovers in the opening 90 seconds and neither squad was able to score until Newberry's Lamell Washington dropped in a pair of free throws with 15:38 on the clock. AU's Maurice Howard got the Trojans on the scoreboard with a basket 10 seconds later, but the Wolves rattled off six straight points to push out to an 8-2 advantage, marking their largest lead of the game.

With the Trojans connecting on just two of their first 11 shot attempts and Newberry making only a pair of their first 13 attempts, Benard ignited a 9-0 run as part of a larger 18-5 outburst that saw the Trojans grab a 20-13 advantage with less than two minutes left in the first half. Benard posted six points during the decisive surge, with junior guard Warren Vinson adding four points.

The Wolves closed out the opening frame with five consecutive points to trim AU's lead to 20-18 at the half.

Second Half
Anderson countered with a 12-1 run to open the second half en route to building a double-digit, 32-19, cushion with 16:15 remaining in the contest and opened its largest advantage of the game (43-28) midway through the half. The Wolves used an 8-1 spurt late in the game to close within 49-43, but Howard connected on his lone 3-pointer of the night to slow the Wolves' rally.

The Trojans held the high-powered Newberry offense to more than 46 points below its league-leading 97.2 points per contest average. The Wolves entered the game with the nation's fourth-highest scoring offense.

• The 51 points were the fewest by an AU opponent since the Trojans defeated Mars Hill, 59-49, on Jan. 14, 2015
• The 51 points were the fewest scored by Newberry since falling, 79-42, to Wingate on Jan. 16, 2013.
• The Trojans have drained at least 10 treys in two of their last five games and seven of their last 12 games, including a season-high 14 treys in the first win over Newberry.
• The last time the Trojans posted a win when scoring less than 61 points was last season's victory over Warren Wilson (1/4/16)
• The Trojans have dished out double-figure assists in five straight games and eight of their last nine games.
• The Trojans committed a season-high 31 turnovers, but also forced a season-high 23 miscues.
• Sophomore guard Andrew Boynton has connected on six straight free throws.

The Trojans wrap up their two-game road swing at Tusculum in a key conference matchup on Wednesday, as the Trojans are tied for seventh in the SAC standings and the Pioneers are ninth with both teams battling for a berth in the postseason. Tip-off is set for at 8 p.m. at Pioneer Arena.