Seniors Darius Simmons and R.J. Gunn combined for 62 points as the Lenoir-Rhyne Men’s Basketball Team topped Newberry 81-70 in the Quarterfinal of the South Atlantic Conference Tournament. The Bears snapped a 12-game losing streak at Newberry in the process.
In the first half, Newberry led by as many as 11 (23-12) with 11:59 to play but Tyson McClain, Gunn and Simmons hit three straight 3-pointers to spur a 9-0 run. An 11-2 run was capped by another three by Simmons to give the Bears a 34-29 advantage with 5:22 left in the half.
The Bears pushed the lead to as many as seven which was how the half would end as LR led 40-33. Simmons had 20 first-half points on 7-of-10 shooting and 4-of-6 from long range while Gunn added 13 on 5-of-10 shooting.
The Bears converted at 50 percent from the field and from three and the eight made triples in the opening half was the most in a period this season.
In the second half, Gunn and Simmons stayed hot, combining for 29 of the Bears 41 second half points.
Newberry cut the lead to 42-40 with 15:33 to play but LR pushed back ahead thanks to a 10-3 run. The Wolves hung around until the nine minute mark of the second half. With LR up 56-49, Simmons and Gunn hit back-to-back triples and Cooper Fowler was fouled on his three point attempt and hit all three from the charity stripe. A Gunn jumper capped the 11-0 run and put the game out of reach.
Davion Bradford had a season-high 10 rebounds, the first Bear in double digits in the rebounding column this season.
Simmons 33 points ties a career-high which he set against Anderson on Feb. 8, 2020. It’s also the fourth game of his career that Simmons topped the 30-point plateau. This was the 26th game in his career that Gunn has topped the 20-point mark.
Lenoir-Rhyne hit a season-high 13 threes on the night and shot a season-best 44.8 percent from long range. LR held a 37-28 advantage on the boards.
All five of the SAC Tournament matchups between LR and Newberry have been a 4-seed vs a 5-seed as was the case in this one. Lenoir-Rhyne is 26-22 all-time in South Atlantic Conference Tournament history. The Bears were 0-4 all-time against Newberry in the SAC Tournament before tonight’s win. The Bears have lost 12 straight games at Eleazer Arena and haven’t won in Newberry since 2009.
The Bears are 9-6 overall and will travel to Charlotte to face top-seeded Queens on Thursday night in the tournament semifinals.