NEWBERRY — For the second straight game the Newberry women’s basketball team led wire-to-wire as Newberry topped Tusculum 77-67 on Saturday night, thanks to four double-digit scoring performances within the starting lineup.
The Wolves (14-4, 6-2 SAC) opened the game with a jumper from senior Kendra Brown before pushing out to a seven-point lead less than four minutes into the game when Brown sunk a pair of free throws. Tusculum (10-6, 4-4 SAC) quickly cut the Wolves advantage down to two, before the Pioneers and Wolves exchanged makes over the next two minutes.
It was with 13:20 on the clock that started a run that would push them to an eventual 12-point advantage. The run began as sophomore Samantha Creed drained a 3-pointer off an assist from fellow sophomore Zara Pearson. A fast break bucket by Brown continued the Wolves’ run before Pearson would hit a 3-pointer of her own.
Tusculum struck fast out of a timeout with a 3-point make, but Brown converted a three-point play to put the Wolves ahead by eight. A couple minutes later Lepaio gave Newberry its first double figure lead when she hit a free throw with 5:21 on the clock to put the Wolves up 29-19.
A layup by junior Devanee Taylor and a free throw from junior Ellie Gleeson saw the Wolves lead reach 12 points. Tusculum battled for the remainder of the opening period, cutting the lead to five points before time expired. Newberry headed to the locker room with a 35-30 lead.
Brown led all scorers in the opening period with 12 points, while a trio of Wolves recorded three rebounds in the first half.
Lepaio started the Wolves off in the second half with a layup to put Newberry up by seven. The back-and-forth between the two teams continued, with Newberry gaining a slight advantage as the Wolves saw their lead reach ten points before slipping away to just five in a two-minute span. Newberry again pushed a lead to 11 points with points in the paint and made free throws.
The Pioneers continued to send the Wolves to the free throw line as the second half continued, seeing Newberry reach an 18 point advantage of a 12-4 run. During the 12-4 swing, Newberry scored nine of its 12 points off of free throws.
Up 65-47 with less than ten minutes remaining, Newberry saw its lead dip to 12 points, before Taylor and Pearson combined to push the lead back to 17 points. As they did late in the first period, the Pioneers battled from behind again in the second cutting the lead to 10 points before Tusculum ran of seconds and saw Newberry walk away with a 77-67 victory.
Lepaio led the Wolves with 22 points, while also blocking four shots and grabbing five rebounds. Creed tallied 16 points and seven rebounds, while Brown also recorded seven rebounds and netted 13 points. Pearson was the fourth Newberry player in double figures as she notched a 11 point performance. Gleeson was strong all-around with eight points, six rebounds and six assists.
The Wolves shot 41.2-percent from the field, and 70.7-percent from the free throw line, in a game which saw Newberry attempt 41 free throws.
Newberry returns to the road on Wednesday when the Wolves head to Mars Hill for a 6 p.m. showdown with the Lions.