ANDERSON, S.C. – With five players reaching double figures in the scoring column for the second straight game, the Anderson men's basketball team wrapped up its home slate by outrunning Newberry, 92-89, in South Atlantic Conference action Saturday night at the Abney Athletic Center.
Anderson improved to 15-11 overall and 9-9 in the league with its second straight victory and its third win in four decisions, while Newberry (9-17, 4-14 SAC) dropped its fourth straight decision.
INSIDE THE BOX SCORE
Junior guard Shawn Benard led all scorers with a season-high 24 points on the strength of 8-of-11 shooting from the field, while pulling down six rebounds and dishing out three assists. Senior guard Gage Ellis poured in 20 points on 9-of-15 shooting and senior guard Randall Shaw added 15 first-half points. Senior forward Jeremy Bouton narrowly missed recording his first double-double of the season with 14 points and a game-high nine boards.
HOW IT HAPPENED
The game featured nine ties and three lead changes inside the first 12 minutes, with the Trojans taking the lead for good on back-to-back treys from the left side - first from Benard, then from Shaw 37 seconds later – that gave AU a 31-25 lead with more than seven minutes left in the opening half.
The 3-pointers ignited a 12-2 scoring run that boosted the Trojans' edge to a double-digit 37-27 cushion at the 5:48 mark. AU pushed out to its largest lead of the contest, at 46-34, on Shaw's third 3-pointer of the night from deep on the left side and held a 48-44 halftime lead.
The Wolves trimmed AU's cushion to just 52-51 with just less than 18 minutes left in the game, but the Trojans steadily pushed back ahead and a layup by Benard boosted the edge back to nine, at 65-56.
Anderson maintained at least a four-point lead over the next 13-plus minutes, until Newberry's Luke Gibson trimmed the Trojans' advantage to just 89-86 with his fourth 3-pointer of the night with just 33 seconds on the clock. Ellis countered with a driving layup to push AU's lead back to five, while the Wolves' TJ Brown kept the visitors within range by connecting on another 3-pointer with 14.9 remaining. Ellis followed by netting 1-of-2 from the free throw line to give AU a 92-89 edge with 9.3 ticks left and the Wolves were unable to connect on the equalizer as time expired.
ANDERSON STAT OF THE GAME
The Trojans shot better than 50 percent from the field for the second straight game.
• Newberry won the rebounding battle, 43-38.
• The Trojans have dished out double-figure assists in seven straight games and 15 of their last 16 contests.
• The Trojans have connected on at least five 3-pointers in 12 consecutive games, including at least seven in seven straight games.
• AU has clinched its first winning season since the 2013-14 campaign.
• The Trojans have clinched their third consecutive appearance in the SAC Tournament and their seventh appearance in the postseason since joining the SAC for the 2010-11 campaign.
• AU has clinched at least the No. 7 seed in next month's SAC Tournament and can still overtake Tusculum for the sixth seed and Lenoir-Rhyne for the No. 5 seed.
• The Trojans won their fifth decision in the last six meetings with Newberry.
• AU finished the regular season with an 11-4 home record.
• The Trojans have posted the most home wins in a season since also notching 11 victories on the Abney Center hardwood during the 2012-13 campaign.
• AU won its eighth home contest in the last 12 home decisions.
• Senior Jeremy Bouton needs one point to become the 14th player in program history to score at least 1,000 career points.
AU closes out the regular season with a two-game road swing, beginning at Mars Hill on Wednesday. The Trojans will be seeking a sweep of the regular-season series with the Lions after defeating Mars Hill, 87-75, on Jan. 23. Tip-off in the Tar Heel State is scheduled for 8 p.m.