WINGATE — There are no ugly wins in February, Wingate University men’s basketball coach Brian Good says.
“The only ugly ones are in November or December,” he said after his team’s 85-77 South Atlantic Conference victory over Newberry on Wednesday night in Cuddy Arena.
Senior forward Josh Dominguez led four Bulldog players in double figures with 19 points and sophomore forward Mike Baez added 16 points and 13 rebounds for Wingate.
Ugly or otherwise, winning is all the Bulldogs (14-7, 11-4 SAC) have done since a 78-56 victory at Brevard back on Dec. 17 started the team’s current 11-game unbeaten streak. It’s the longest one since the team hit that mark during the 2000-2001 season.
And it has propelled Wingate to third place in the league standing after a 1-4 start in SAC play.
“They’ve all been a little bit different,” Good says of the wins in the streak. “Some nights our defense has gotten us through, others we’ve had guys come off the bench to make a difference. It just says a lot about our guys. We could have blamed each other and felt sorry for ourselves, but we showed that we have a lot of fight left in us.”
Wednesday night’s game wasn’t easy. Both team struggled to crack the 30 percent field-goal shooting barrier in the first 10 minutes and Wingate held on to a precarious 35-34 lead at halftime on a driving layup by Zeriq Lolar five seconds before the buzzer.
Newberry kept it close for most of the second half, and Wingate didn’t take the lead for good until Dominguez’ layup with 3:31 to play gave the Bulldogs a 73-71 lead.
Stout defense, including a couple of big blocked shots by senior forward Isiah Cureton, sealed the deal for Wingate.
“We got some big stops in the last three minutes,” Good said.
The win gave the Bulldogs a split in the season series with Newberry, which won 101-98 at Newberry on Nov. 30 – before the streak got started. That was a score that’s more typical of how things go for anybody who plays the Wolves, who as the Eighties buzzword goes, thrive on chaos.
Newberry’s frenetic up-and-down-the-court style is actually a little more subdued than it used to be. Coach Dave Davis didn’t employ the five-for-five substitutions every two or three minutes as he has in the past in his tenure at both Newberry and Pfeiffer – the basketball equivalent of the hockey coach “rolling lines.”
But it’s still hard to resist getting sucked into a track meet against his teams. Good said his team did a good job of avoiding that.
“There’s really no way you can prepare for it in practice,” he said. “We just managed to find a feel for the game.”
The Bulldogs’ winning streak, and the arc of their season, faces its biggest challenge in the next two games. On Saturday, Wingate is on the road to face No. 21-nationally ranked Lincoln Memorial, the defending conference champion. And next Wednesday the Bulldogs are back in Cuddy Arena to play Queens, the current league leader and No. 4-ranked team in Division II.
The Bulldogs handed the Royals their only loss of the season by a 71-64 score on Jan. 18 in Charlotte.
“I think we’ll have their attention,” Good said.