HARROGATE, Tenn. — Lincoln Memorial took an 83-69 decision over Newberry in South Atlantic Conference play at Tex Turner Arena, spoiling a career day by junior center Meg Essex.
Essex notched a career-high 34 points to tie a Latonia Allen effort in 1989 for ninth place all-time in school history in single-game scoring, coming two points shy of Nicola Handreck’s 36-point outburst at Carson-Newman last January that is currently fourth in school history.
She tied a career high with 13 made field goals on 21 opportunities, helping Newberry to a 30-28 advantage in the paint, and knocked down eight free throws. Essex added five rebounds, an assist, a block and a steal to her totals, made all the more impressive by the fact that she saw just 27 minutes of action due to foul trouble.
Essex poured in 20 points after halftime, including 12 in the fourth period alone as the Wolves (11-10, 6-8 SAC) looked to cut into Lincoln Memorial’s (13-8, 9-6 SAC) lead. The Lady Railsplitters saw their advantage sliced from seven points to just one midway through the third period, but responded with a 19-6 run over the next five minutes to effectively put the margin out of reach.
The Wolves went 0-for-6 from the floor during the decisive stretch and were held to a 4-for-16 shooting mark in the period. Lincoln Memorial countered by going 9-for-19 from the field and making all but one of their seven third-period free throw opportunities.
“We ran into a team that played well and we had trouble guarding them,” said Newberry Head Coach Sean Page. “On the positive side, we scored 69 points, so we hope we can carry that over to Wednesday night at home.”
Shelby Britten contributed a game-high eight assists, one off her career high, to pace a Newberry team that topped 15 assists for the 14th time this season by accumulating 18 helpers on 23 made field goals. Samara Hill had 10 points for the Wolves, while Hannah Lepaio was the team’s leading rebounder with six.
Shea Coker led the Lady Railsplitters with 20 points, leading a group of four players in double figures. Ross Mathis nearly matched Britten with seven assists to go along with her 10 points. Jordan Brightwell pulled down a game-high seven rebounds and nearly reached double figures with nine points.
Both teams were hot from the opening tip, combining to go 14-for-30 from the field in the opening period as the Lady Railsplitters built a 22-19 lead. Newberry trimmed the deficit by a point to 38-36 at the half as both teams continued their hot shooting before intermission.