ORANGEBURG — The Newberry women’s basketball team closed out 2012 on a positive note as the Wolves topped the Claflin Lady Panthers 68-62, with the help of a 17 point performance by sophomore Samantha Creed and a dominant 25 point and 10 rebound performance by fellow sophomore Haylee Lepaio.
The Wolves (9-2) never trailed the Lady Panthers (1-9) and only saw the game even once. After a 2-2 tie early in the game, Newberry extended its lead to double digits only ten minutes into the game, when junior Tasia Holdorf’s (Anchorage, Alaska) jumper put the Wolves up 19-8.
Newberry continued to control the game in the opening half with the lead reaching as many as 13 points when freshman Kirsten Dunsmore (Sydney, New South Wales, Australia) hit a jumper with 7:14 on the clock. Claflin cut into the Wolves lead thanks to a quick 5-0 run, before Holdorf scored to put the Wolves ahead by ten once again.
Claflin looked to control the final minutes of the first half, cutting Newberry’s lead down to three with as few as 1:09 remaining in the opening half. The final two points of the opening period came when redshirt freshman Shannon Truesdale (Lancaster) hit a pair of free throws to secure a 32-27 halftime lead for Newberry.
Lepaio (Bathurst, New South Wales, Australia) scored 14 points in the opening half and brought down five rebounds.
Claflin and Newberry traded points in the opening seconds of the second period, before four straight Lady Panther points cut the Wolves’ lead to only one. Newberry’s lead became more comfortable as Creed (Montmorency, Victoria, Australia) and Lepaio combined to put Newberry up 43-35 with 13:41 remaining.
Newberry’s lead remained steady, reaching double digits twice in the second period. The Wolves led by 10 late when a jumper by Lepaio put the Wolves ahead 63-53 with 2:37 remaining. The Lady Panthers cut into the Wolves lead late, but makes from the free throw line by Creed and sophomore Zara Pearson (Echuca, Victoria, Australia) in the final minute clinched Newberry’s 68-62 victory.
Lepaio led all scorers with 25 points, while also pulling down 10 rebounds and five blocked shots. All five of Lepaio’s blocked shots came in the second period. Lepaio’s five block performance is the third such performance of her career.
Creed added four boards and three assists to her 17 point evening. Holdorf added seven points and eight boards off the bench. Pearson posted a six assist performance, while also finishing the night with four rebounds.
Newberry outscored Claflin 42-24 in the paint, while also outdoing the Lady Panthers 15-5 in the assist column.
With the non-conference schedule now over, the Wolves return to South Atlantic Conference play on Saturday. Newberry plays host on Saturday to Mars Hill at 2 p.m.