NEWBERRY — After outlasting an early Claflin scare, the Newberry women’s basketball team battled back for a 74-66 victory over the visiting Lady Panthers as the Wolves were led by junior Haylee Lepaio’s 22-point evening.
Claflin (3-6) led early taking its lead to as many as 10 points in the opening six minutes of the first period. A layup by Lepaio began to turn the momentum Newberry’s way as Lepaio’s make pulled the Wolves within eight.
The two sides traded makes over the next four possessions, before mistakes on the offensive end by Claflin saw the Wolves go on four-point run to pull within five. A Lepaio basket just inside the 10-minute mark cut the deficit to three and was soon followed by a jumper from senior Tasia Holdorf as the Wolves pulled within one.
Claflin fought off the Wolves until the 3:08 mark, when senior Ellie Gleeson scored to give Newberry a one-point advantage. Gleeson then assisted on a layup by Taylor as the Wolves started to pull away from the Lady Panthers before heading to the locker room with a four-point lead.
Newberry opened the second period with momentum and pushed the lead to 14 by the 14:46 mark of the second half. Claflin tried its best to climb back into the game, cutting the Wolves lead to single digits by the 2:22 mark. It was during the final two minutes, that Newberry secured the victory as the Wolves got hot from the free throw line and saw makes from Pearson, Gleeson and junior Kirsti Hawkins.
Newberry finished the evening with 30 points from the free throw line, as the Wolves shot 73.2-percent from the charity stripe.
Lepaio led the Wolves with 22 points, while Taylor added 14. Holdorf and Gleeson finished with 13 points and 11 points, respectively. Lepaio and Holdorf each snagged five rebounds in the victory.
Gleeson finished the evening with five assists, two blocked shots and one steal, while junior Kaitlynn Pacholke snagged three steals on the defensive end.
Newberry returns to action in 2014 as the Wolves travel to Tusculum on Jan. 3, for a 6 p.m. tip-off.