NEWBERRY — The Wolves needed a trio of double-digit scorers to knock off the visiting Mars Hill Lions on Saturday afternoon, as Newberry topped Mars Hill 72-61 led by the trio of Kendra Brown, Samantha Creed and Haylee Lepaio.
As the game tipped off, it seemed to be smooth sailing for the Wolves (10-2, 2-0 SAC) as Newberry jumped out to an early 16-3 lead over the Lions (3-7, 0-2 SAC). Despite trailing by 13 points, the visiting Lions slowly began to chip away at the Wolves lead. First a pair of made free throws by Armeka Booker, cut the lead to 11 and soon enough the Lions found themselves within two points at 23-21 with less than nine minutes remaining in the opening half.
A layup by Creed (Montmorency, Victoria, Australia) gave the Wolves a temporary cushion, before the Lions surged out to take a lead that would reach as many as seven points. The Wolves answered the Lions lead with five straight points, including a buzzer-beater 3-pointer off the glass from beyond the midcourt line by Brown (Swansea), which saw the Wolves head to the locker room trailing by two points.
Trailing 37-35 to the Lions, the Wolves headed to the locker room down for the first time all season at halftime. Lepaio (Bathurst, New South Wales, Australia) scored eight points in only five minutes of action during the first period; while Brown and Creed both recorded 10 first half points.
Starting the second half, Lepaio hit a jumper in the paint to tie the game at 37-37. Newberry and Mars Hill traded baskets, as the Wolves took a short lead before seeing the game tied 39-39 with 16:48 on the clock. The Wolves ticked off five straight points, to take a five-point lead, until the Lions offense took advantage of occasional Newberry mistakes to take a two-point lead with 8:09 on the clock.
Up 53-51, the Lions not only saw their lead slip away, but never regained control of the game. Lepaio, made her presence felt in the second half tallying 13 second half points and seven rebounds.
The Wolves took advantage of Lepaio’s presence when with five minutes remaining Lepaio pulled down a defensive rebound only to be fouled soon after. Lepaio turned around and hit a pair of free throws to give Newberry a five-point lead. Newberry continued its high paced attack on the fast break as a layup by Brown soon put the Wolves ahead by seven.
Newberry slowly stretched its lead to 13 points with a 72-59 advantage with less than a minute on the clock. A pair of late free throws by Mars Hill cut the final score to 72-61.
Creed led the Wolves offense with 22 points, while adding three assists and four steals to her stat line. Lepaio tallied 21 points, seven rebounds and two blocked shots. Brown had one of the best games of her Newberry career with 17 points, five assists, three steals and three rebounds. Brown’s five assists are a career high.
Also in the assist column, junior Ellie Gleeson (Albury, New South Wales, Australia) recorded eight assist. Gleeson’s eight assists give her 169 on her career, leaving her six away from the No. 10 spot in the Newberry career record book.
The Wolves continue the South Atlantic Conference schedule on Wednesday at Anderson, when the Trojans and Wolves tip off at 6 p.m.