Newberry uses strong shooting to defeat Tusculum, 73-57

Newberry uses strong shooting to defeat Tusculum, 73-57

GREENEVILLE, Tenn. --- Meg Essex and Nicola Handreck scored 20 points apiece to help Newberry College to a 73-57 victory over Tusculum College in South Atlantic Conference women's basketball action Saturday afternoon at Pioneer Arena.

Newberry (16-8, 12-8 SAC) shot 52.1 percent (25-for-48) from the field and outrebounded Tusculum by a 43-19 margin to sweep the season series from the Pioneers, who received 16 points from Callie Patterson and 15 from Kasey Johnson in the loss.

Despite the setback, Tusculum (6-18, 5-15 SAC) remains in control of the eighth and final spot in the SAC Tournament over Coker heading into the final two games of the season, thanks to a sweep of the season series by the Pioneers.

Newberry used an early 14-0 run to go up by double figures, only to see Tusculum pull within two early in the second half. The Wolves then answered with a 7-0 spurt to go back up by nine, and the Pioneers would get no closer than seven as Newberry finished the game on a 12-3 run over the final 7 1/2 minutes.

Tusculum finished the game with a season-high 11 three-pointers in 24 attempts, the most three-pointers in a game for the Pioneers since hitting 15 out of 26 against Wingate on Feb. 9, 2013. Johnson went 3-for-3 from three-point range for the Pioneers while Patterson set a career-high with four three-pointers. Eleven of the Pioneers' 20 field goals were from beyond the arc, including five out of seven in the second half.

After the Pioneers opened the scoring on a three-pointer by Johnson 30 seconds into the first quarter, the Wolves came back with 14 unanswered points. Handreck had five points and Essex scored four points as part of the run for the Wolves, while Tusculum missed six shots and had a pair of turnovers.

Johnson made a layup with 4:59 left in the first quarter to stop the run and bring the Pioneers back within 14-5, but the Wolves' lead swelled to 12 points at 19-7 on a three-pointer from Handreck with 2:46 left in the quarter. Newberry led 23-12 at the end of the quarter as Shelby Britten beat the buzzer with a shot off glass.

A three-point play by Essex gave Newberry a 32-17 lead with 7:10 left in the first half, but the Pioneers responded with a 14-3 run of their own. Sydney Wilson started the run with a four-point play with 5:16 left in the second quarter, and a three-pointer from Patterson followed by baskets from Kristen Atwell and Maelyn Head brought the Pioneers within 34-28 with 3:05 to play in the half.

Another three-pointer by Wilson sliced the Newberry lead to 35-31 with 1:58 to go in the half, but the Wolves answered with baskets on each of their final three possessions, from Handreck, Essex and Britten, to take a 41-33 lead into the half. Essex led the Wolves with 13 points and three rebounds in the first half while Handreck had 10 points and four assists. Patterson paced the Pioneers with 11 points while Wilson had nine points and three rebounds in the opening 20 minutes.

The Pioneers responded quickly to start the third quarter as consecutive three-pointers from Patterson and Johnson pulled Tusculum within two points at 41-39 with 8:35 left in the period. A basket by Essex and a three-pointer by Britten pushed the Wolves back ahead by seven, and Newberry increased its lead to 57-45 on two free throws by Britten with 1:14 left in the third. Head made three free throws with three seconds left as the Pioneers trailed 57-48 heading into the fourth quarter.

Tusculum trailed 61-48 following two free throws by Handreck with 8:10 left, but cut the margin to seven on two free throws by Johnson, a jumper by Patterson and a steal and layup by Wilson, the latter coming with 7:27 to play to pull the Pioneers within 61-54. But, the Pioneers would miss their next five shots and go scoreless for 5 1/2 minutes as Newberry went ahead 68-54 with less than three minutes remaining.

Wilson joined Patterson and Johnson in double figures for the Pioneers with 11 points on 4-for-9 shooting, to go along with four rebounds and three steals. Head had eight points and five rebounds and did not turn the ball over in 36 minutes of playing time. As a team, Tusculum had just 12 turnovers in the game, but Newberry turned those miscues into 20 points.

Jaya Schultz finished with a game-high nine rebounds and had five points and six assists for the Wolves, while Hannah Lepaio had eight boards in 12 minutes off the bench. Britten added six rebounds to go along with 13 points in 35 minutes for the Wolves, who shot 17-for-21 from the foul line while the Pioneers were 6-for-9 at the stripe.

Tusculum will begin the final week of the regular season on Wednesday night at 6 p.m. against visiting Mars Hill. The Pioneers will be involved in activities commemorating breast cancer awareness as part of Play 4Kay Night, and the team's four seniors will be honored in ceremonies prior to the start of the game.