NEWBERRY — A 40-point performance from junior Haylee Lepaio catapulted the Newberry women’s basketball team to a 75-63 victory over Queens on Wednesday night inside of Eleazer Arena.
The Wolves (15-8, 11-8 SAC) never trailed in the opening period as the Royals (5-18, 4-15 SAC) allowed Newberry to climb out to an early 4-0 lead on back-to-back makes by Lepaio. Lepaio scored the opening seven points for Newberry as the Wolves slowly crept out to a9-7 lead on the Royals.
Lepaio started another run for the Wolves at the 9:12 mark in the first half as she hit a jumper, which was followed by free throw makes by senior Tasia Holdorf and a jumper from sophomore Kirsten Dunsmore. Jumpers on back-to-back possessions from Lepaio and junior Zara Pearson gave Newberry a 12-point lead at 25-13.
The 12-point advantage was the largest of the opening half for Newberry as the Royals began to cut into Newberry’s lead as the clock ran down. Newberry saw a tie game turn into a two-point lead late in the half as Lepaio hit a pair of free throws with 24 seconds remaining in the period.
Lepaio emerged from the locker room after halftime and scored the first four points of the half for Newberry, before the Royals responded. By the time senior Ellie Gleeson hit a jumper with 14:13 left in the half, Lepaio had scored eight points in the period.
Shortly after Gleeson’s jumper the Royals found themselves not only back in the game, but with their first lead of the night as Nikia Squire gave Queens a one-point lead from the free throw line.
Newberry recovered the momentum as Lepaio notched six-straight points before Pearson’s 3-pointer at 7:05 gave Newberry the 11-point lead.
The Wolves saw their lead shrink to as few as one point in the final seven minutes before Lepaio and Holdorf pushed the lead back to 12 points as time expired from the clock. Holdorf’s two made free throws in the final 22 seconds gave Newberry a 12-point victory over its conference foes.
Lepaio led Newberry with 40 points, 21 of which were scored in the first half. Lepaio’s 40-points make her the 10th player in SAC women’s basketball history to reach the 40-point mark. With the second most points in a game in Newberry history, Lepaio now finds herself in the top-10 at Newberry in single game points, season points and career points.
In the career record book, Lepaio jumped Tiffany Johnson for No. 7 all-time at Newberry.
Pearson entered the career record book in assists with seven assists on the evening to jump to No. 10 all-time with 230 for her career. Pearson sits seven short of former teammate Keisha Henderson for ninth all-time at Newberry.
Lepaio finished the evening with 40 points and 14 rebounds, while Holdorf tallied 11 points on the night.
Pearson passed out seven assists, to go along with nine points and four rebounds.
Newberry travels to Mars Hill on Saturday for a 2 p.m. tip against the Lions.