NEWBERRY — Thanks to a strong performance by the entire roster, the Newberry women’s basketball team not only secured an 80-67 victory over the Columbia College Fighting Koalas to wrap up the pre-holiday break schedule, but the Wolves also the 400th victory in program history.
The Wolves (8-2) saw all 13 players record at least one point, steal, block, rebound or assist on the evening.
Both Newberry and Columbia College (3-11) struggled early, combining for 16 points in the opening five minutes of the game, before neither team was able to score for a span of three minutes. The scoring drought broke, when sophomore Haylee Lepaio (Bathurst, New South Wales, Australia) scored on a layup to put the Wolves up 10-8 on the Fighting Koalas.
The two teams proceeded to exchange baskets, before the Wolves quietly took a six-point lead on free throws and layup by Lepaio. Columbia College cut into Newberry’s lead late in the first half, which saw the Wolves escape to halftime with a 29-26 lead.
The second half was a different ball game as the Wolves jumped out to a commanding lead over Columbia College. After the Fighting Koalas scored the opening points of the half, the Wolves scored eight straight points and pushed the lead to nine points.
Five minutes into the second half, a jumper by sophomore Samantha Creed (Montmorency, Victoria, Australia) put the Wolves ahead by 13 points. Newberry continued to extend its lead to as many as 23 points, before a fresh set of faces took the floor for the Wolves late in the second half.
With a little over eight minutes remaining in regulation, sophomore Kirsti Hawkins (Newberry) found herself wide open beyond the 3-point arc and drained her first three points of her collegiate career. Hawkins soon was joined in the scoring column by freshman Mikalia Butler (Kings Mountain, N.C.), who gave the Wolves a 28-point lead on a layup with three minutes remaining. Freshman Kirsten Dunsmore also tallied a pair of points late in the game when her layup with 1:40 on the clock, netted the Wolves their final points of the game.
Lepaio led the Wolves with 23 points, while Creed recorded 14 points on the night. Junior Devanee Taylor (Chester, Va.) scored a season high nine points off the bench for the Wolves.
Five Newberry players finished with at least five rebounds against the Fighting Koalas. Juniors Ellie Gleeson (Albury, New South Wales, Australia) and Tasia Holdorf (Anchorage Alaska) joined Lepaio with six rebounds. Creed and fellow sophomore Zara Pearson (Echuca, Victoria, Australia) both finished the evening with five rebounds apiece.
Creed recorded eight assists, while Pearson added six as the Wolves tied their season high with 21 assists.
Newberry outrebounded Columbia College 49-35, while also outdoing the Fighting Koalas 5-0 in blocked shots and 6-4 in steals. The Wolves outscored the Fighting Koalas 62-32 in the paint, 16-8 off turnovers and 26-2 off the bench.
Newberry returns to action on New Year’s Eve, when the Wolves travel to Orangeburg to wrap up 2012 with a 5:30 p.m. meeting with the Claflin Lady Panthers. Newberry will open 2013 at home on Jan. 5, against Mars Hill.