GREENWOOD — For the 14th time in her career Newberry sophomore Haylee Lepaio recorded a double-double as the Wolves walked away from Finis Horne Arena with a 59-51 victory against the No. 20 Lander Lady Bearcats.
Lander (0-1) opened the game with the scoring advantage, taking its lead to as many as six points when Precious Elkins hit the back end of her two free throw attempts. Elkins made free throw was the begin of a Newberry (3-0) comeback as shortly after her free throw fell, Wolves’ head coach Sean Page made a mass substitution, which soon resulted in a 3-point make by sophomore Zara Pearson (Echuca, Victoria, Australia).
The Lady Bearcats were able to counter the Wolves for a few minutes before the Wolves gained the lead on a jumper from Lepaio (Bathurst, New South Wales, Australia) and never trailed again. Lepaio’s third straight jumper put the Wolves in front 23-19 with six minutes remaining in the opening half. Lander and Newberry traded baskets as the first half wound down, before Newberry escaped with a 25-23 halftime lead.
After surrendering a Lander basket at the start of the second half the Wolves set out on a 9-0 run on makes from junior Ellie Gleeson (Albury, New South Wales, Australia, freshman Samantha Creed (Montmorency, Victoria, Australia) and Lepaio. The Wolves grabbed the nine-point lead at 16:18 remaining when Lepaio hit a jumper, off an assist from Pearson.
The next three minutes saw neither team find the bottom of the basket, before Lander scored six straight points. Pearson’s 3-pointer with 12:01 on the clock broke the Wolves scoreless streak, which was followed with a back-and-forth exchange prior to two straight makes from junior Tasia Holdorf (Anchorage, Alaska). Holdorf’s second make gave the Wolves a 41-33 lead with 10 minutes to go in the game.
Lander attempted to chip away at Nwberry’s lead, but another Lepaio jumper put the Wolves up by nine with a little over five minutes to go. The final five minutes saw neither team gain much momentum, as Newberry countered Lander baskets with points of its own. It wasn’t until Pearson hit a pair of free throws with 10 seconds left that the game was truly wrapped up.
Lepaio’s 14th double-double came as the sophomore scored 17 points and recorded 11 rebounds, which were joined on the stat sheet by a block, steal and assist. Pearson matched her career high with a 13-point performance, which also included four assists, two steals and two rebounds. Reigning SAC Player of the Week, Creed posted a 12 point, seven rebounds and five assist performance. Gleeson finished the evening with four assists, eight rebounds and six points.
The Wolves outscored the Lady Bearcats off of turnovers 15-7. Newberry earned a slight advantage in rebounds with a 41-39 edge. On the evening, the Wolves hit five 3-pointers and shot 71-percent from the free throw line.
Newberry returns to action on Saturday, with a road trip to Florence. The Wolves and Lady Patriots are set to tip-off at 1:30 p.m.