Harper leads GWU men with 22 points in win
It was a career night for Gardner-Webb forward Donta Harper.
Harper poured in 22 points and Tashan Newsome added a season-high 18 to lead the Runnin' Bulldogs to a 77-58 win over Virginia-Wise Monday night at Paul Porter Arena.
It marked the end of an eight-day break for Gardner-Webb (5-4).
While there might have been some rust, it certainly didn't show as the Runnin' Bulldogs led by as many as 26 points in the second half.
"I feel really good about how we handled the ball tonight and responded to their run in the second half," said GWU head coach Chris Holtmann.
Harper scored 15 of his total in the second half, making 8-of-11 shots and 6-of-8 free throws in just 22 minutes. He added a blocked shot and two steals. Newsome made 8-of-15 shots, dished off five assists without a turnover and pulled down five rebounds.
Kevin Hartley made his first four shots from long range to finish with 12 points and Mike Byron had eight points, four rebounds and two blocked shots in his first game back since Nov. 10. Hartley added eight rebounds, tying Onzie Branch for team-high honors.
The Runnin' Bulldogs shot 46.0 percent for the game (29-of-63), held a 41-34 edge on the glass and forced 17 turnovers (13 steals). GWU dished off 20 assists, with four players collecting at least four in the game. Tyler Strange had six assists to lead the way.
Gardner-Webb led 38-26 at halftime, and stretched its lead quickly to 41-26 on Hartley's fourth 3-pointer of the game with 19 minutes, 39 seconds left. UVA-Wise found its touch from beyond the arc, however, knocking down a trio of three-pointers to spark a 13-4 run that made the score 45-39 on a layup by Javon Moore with 14:46 on the clock.
Harper and Newsome combined for 12 of Gardner-Webb's next 14 points as part of a 14-0 run that pushed the Runnin' Bulldogs' lead to 20.
"UVA-Wise was tougher and more physical than we were for the bulk of the game. That needs to improve significantly," Holtmann said. "Having said that, I thought we had some terrific moments."
The Cavaliers (4-6) shot just 38.6 percent for the game (22-of-57), turned the basketball over 17 times and were outscored 12-2 on the break and 34-18 in the paint. UVA-Wise did make nine three-pointers in the game (9-of-24), with three of those coming in the final 3:54 with the score out of reach.
Paul Evans (14 points), Tyler Maggard (12 points), Jovan Moore (10 points) and Jermaine Wright (10 points) paced the Cavaliers.
The Runnin' Bulldogs will return to action at 7 p.m. Wednesday as they travel to Spartanburg, SC to take on Wofford.
Gardner-Webb sports information contributed to this report