NEWBERRY, S.C. –Despite junior Lesley Woods’ five 3-pointers for 15 points on the afternoon, Anderson University women’s basketball was unable keep up with South Atlantic Conference preseason favorite, Newberry, falling 72-68 Saturday afternoon at Eleazer Arena.
With the setback, the Trojans stumble to 11-9 overall and an even 7-7 in league play. Since joining the league in the 2010-11 season, AU is 1-3 at Eleazer Arena with its last win on Feb. 9, 2011.
Woods carded her fourth straight game with four or more made 3-pointers as she is averaging 15.3 points per game in the span. During the stretch, Woods is shooting 41.3 percent (19-for-46) from behind the arc and 40 percent (20-for-50) from the field. This afternoon, the Raleigh, N.C. native finished 5-for-13 from 3-point range as the rest of the Trojans were 4-for-15.
Following the junior’s total was classmate Sierra Simpson as she scored in double figures for the first time since Jan. 22 with 14 points. Along with the points, Simpson was a rebound shy of her fourth double-double of the season, finishing with nine rebounds and five assists. Sophomore Katie Davis snaps an eight-game streak of failing to score in double digits, adding 10 points in 21 minutes.
“This was another tough game on the road. We came ready to play, but I give Newberry credit, they were just a little better than we were today,” Anderson head coach Jimmy Garrity said. “We had a tough night shooting the ball and I thought we settled a little too much for outside shots when we had opportunities to get the ball inside to our post players.”
Preseason All-SAC first team honoree Haylee Lepaio paced the Wolves with 22 points and 10 rebounds, shooting 70 percent from the field. Teammate Tasia Holdolf scored 21 points and was a rebound short of matching Lepaio’s double-double. Ellie Gleeson added 15 points, as the trio combined for 80.5 percent of the Wolves’ scoring.
“We had a tough time defending Lepaio on the block,” Garrity said. “She did a great job getting position deep in the paint. She has great hands and when she gets it that low, she is hard to stop.”
The first half was full of runs by both teams, as Newberry took command early, jumping out to a 10-3 run to begin the contest. Facing the run, the Trojans stormed back with a 7-0 spurt beginning with Woods’ first 3-pointer of the game.
After the Wolves took a five-point lead, AU cut the deficit to one when junior Jasmine Franklin dropped in a lay-up, bringing the score to 15-14 with just over nine minutes to play in the first half.
Bringing the Newberry lead back to one with 6:54 left, the Wolves would eventually take their largest lead of the game with 3:44 remaining in the opening half when Gleeson capped off a 9-0 run with a lay-up. Gleeson would close the opening half with four points.
Up against a nine-point deficit with 2:23 left, the Trojans cut into the lead due to back-to-back treys from Woods to head into halftime down three points. For the first period, AU shot 37.5 percent from the floor, compared to the home side’s 50 percent (12-for-26) mark.
In the first seven minutes of the second half, AU was able to bring the score within one on three occasions, but was unable to take a lead. The Trojans finally evened the score at 47-47 when Franklin made one-of-two free throws at the 13:02 mark. After the free throws, the Wolves began a 6-0 run en route to their largest lead of the second half.
Anderson would only come as close as four points three times until the final minute when sophomore Madison Floyd buried her only 3-pointer of the game with eight seconds remaining, sending the score to 71-68. Simpson fouled Lepaio on the ensuing possession and the Newberry forward was able to make one-of-two from the line to seal the four-point victory.
“I was proud of our comeback effort late in the second half,” Garrity said. “We never gave up. We gave them a scare, but just ran out of time.”
Despite the setback, AU posted its lowest turnover mark (10) of the season since posting eight miscues against Wingate on Dec. 4. With Lepaio, Holdorf and Gleeson combining for 27 rebounds, the Trojans dropped the rebounding battle, 40-38. Anderson is now 2-8 when scoring 70 or fewer points this season.
The Trojans continue their three-game road stretch on Wednesday when they head to Tusculum. Tip-off from Greeneville, Tenn. is slated for 6 p.m.