NEWBERRY – They required one overtime period, but the Newberry women’s basketball team escaped Eleazer Arena with a 74-66 with help from a career high 27-point performance from sophomore Haylee Lepaio.
The Wolves (11-4, 3-2 SAC) bounced back early from a two-game losing skid, by jumping out to an early 17-7 run in the first six minutes of the first period. Despite a slow comeback from the visiting Bulldogs (8-7, 2-3 SAC) the Wolves were able to keep a comfortable cushion until the five minute mark.
With 4:46 remaining in the opening period, a made Wingate free throw cut the Wolves lead to only five. A turnover by the Wolves on the other end was followed by a make from Wingate’s Tish Logan. The Bulldogs continued an eight-point swing to take a 29-28 lead with a little over a minute left in the period. Lepaio however, was uninterested in seeing her team down at halftime and tallied with 30 second remaining in the first half to take the Wolves to the locker room with a 30-29 halftime lead.
Lepaio led all scorers with eight first half points, while senior Kendra Brown finished the period with seen points.
Newberry started out the second half strong with another basket by Lepaio, but Wingate again was ready to cut back into the Wolves’ lead as back-to-back makes by Chantal Dunbar put the Bulldogs ahead 33-32. The Bulldogs grabbed the lead and began to extend it as a Morgan McGee free throw put Wingate up by five with 13:45 remaining in regulation.
A 3-pointer from sophomore Samantha Creed put the Bulldogs lead to one, before a quick three-point play off a jumper and made free throw by Lepaio not only pushed momentum toward Newberry, but put Newberry ahead by a point with a little over 10 minutes to go.
The momentum was short-lived as Wingate not only regained the lead quickly, but jumped out to a five-point 46-41 lead. Newberry again regained the advantage, pushing out to an eight-point lead with 4:47 remaining, on a layup by junior Tasia Holdor. The Bulldogs turned around and not only cut into the Newberry lead, but regained control when a 3-pointer by Kelli Bonner fell with 13 seconds remaining. A quick Newberry timeout allowed the Wolves to get the ball into the hands of Lepaio for a layup, which sent the Wolves and Bulldogs into overtime.
Overtime went the Wolves’ way as Newberry never trailed in the overtime period. A 3-point make by Creed gave the Wolves a quick three-point advantage. A Sarah Wollett layup and a 3-pointer by Bonner, knotted the game at 65-65, before a 9-1 Newberry run, saw the clock expire with the Wolves ontop 74-66.
Lepaio finished with a career high 27 points, while Creed and Brown added 18 and 10, respectively. The Wolves finished the evening with 24 assists, including seven from junior Ellie Gleeson which matches her season high. Pearson recorded six assists, while Creed tallied five. Lepaio led the Wolves with nine rebounds, as Creed and Gleeson both gathered seven.
The Wolves were outrebounded 43-33 by the Bulldogs, but outscored Wingate 46-30 in the paint and 12-2 on the fast break.
Newberry returns home on Saturday, when the Wolves play host to the Catawba Lady Indians at 2 p.m.