NEWBERRY — Senior day saw the Wolves best the Pioneers with a final score of 68-52 on Saturday. This win split the regular season series with Tusculum and secured Newberry the No. 7 seed in the 2018 South Atlantic Conference Women’s Basketball Championship.
The Wolves went into halftime with the momentum in their favor as well as the score, 26-19. Newberry won the tip and gained control of the first period concluding it with a jumper in the paint from Kelsey McDermott and made free throws from senior Samara Hill. Tusculum would tie the game up in the second period at 19 apiece on a successful Pioneer trip to the line.
But senior, Hannah Lepaio wouldn’t have any of that and connected on a layup moments later to propel Newberry back into control. The Wolves concluded the second period on a 7-0 run started by Lepaio, with Shelby Britten sliding in for a three-pointer, and Regan McCarty wrapping it up on a layup.
The Pioneers went into the locker-room shooting 21.4% (6-for-28) from the field and 13.3% from the three-point line going 2-for-15. The Wolves contrast that percentage going 10-for-21 from the field at 7.6% and 20% from the line.
Tusculum found their footing in the third period with hot shooting and outscored Newberry 22-16. This period defined the matchup as the Pioneers tied the game up five times, but not before the Wolves could regain the lead six more times.
Going into the final period Newberry had an 42-41 advantage, which proved too close for comfort for the Wolves as they would go on to score 26 points to the Pioneers’ 11. Newberry started the fourth on a 9-to-0 run beginning with a jump shot in the painted area from Meg Essex, followed by another Essex jumper, a fast break layup from Britten, and ending on a Hill three.
Defense for the Wolves turned up in the last period as they turned the Pioneers over several times and made them miss routine shots by throwing them out of rhythm. Tusculum ended the contest going 15-for-51 from the field (29.4%), 6-for-25 from behind the arc (24%), and 16-for-23 from the foul line (69.6%). Whereas Newberry finished the game shooting 54.2% (26-for-48), 30% from the three-point line (3-for-10), and 68.4% from the charity stripe (13-for-19).
Tonight’s matchup had three starters for Newberry in the official lineup in Alley Stasky, Lepaio, and Hill. However, senior point guard Nicola Handreck suited up for the contest and was honored as an honorary starter. The seniors collectively posted 13 points, two steals, two assists and eight rebounds.
Essex finished the game with her ninth double-double of the season to equal 12 on her career. She posted 18 points, four blocks, a steal, two assists and nabbed a new career high in rebounds tallying 15. This performance puts her at 12 blocks over the past two games.
Britten posted 24 points, a steal, an assist, three rebounds, going 4-for-5 from the charity stripe over her 39 minutes on the hardwood.
”This was a great win on senior night and a great way for our seniors to finish their careers in Eleazer.” Head Coach Sean Page said. “To finish the regular season with four wins in a row is awesome and we feel like we are playing our best basketball going into the tournament.”