LMU women suffer season-ending loss in SAC tournament

NEWBERRY, S.C. – The three-seeded Newberry Wolves (19-10) pulled away in the final minutes to hand the six-seeded Lady Railsplitters (14-15) a 66-57 loss in the quarterfinals of the South Atlantic Conference Championship on Wednesday in Newberry, S.C. Lincoln Memorial’s season is brought to a close with the loss, while the Wolves advance to Saturday’s semifinal round at Furman University’s Timmons Arena.

The loss perpetuated the Lady Railsplitters’ streak of misfortune in the SAC Championship, as Lincoln Memorial fell to 0-8 all-time in the year-end league tournament. It marked LMU’s second loss to Newberry in SAC Championship play, with the first occurrence coming on March 3, 2010.The Lady Railsplitters also sunk to 1-11 all-time at Newberry College’s Eleazer Arena. Lincoln Memorial has not won there since the first-ever visit on February 6, 1993.

The Lady Railsplitters finished shooting right at 40 percent (20-for-50) from the field, 42.9 percent (3-for-7) from three-point territory and 73.7 percent (14-for-19) from the free throw line. Lincoln Memorial’s old bugaboo reared its ugly head once more, though, as the Lady Railsplitters committed 20 turnovers, which were converted into 17 points by the Newberry offense.

Aside from the turnovers, the Lady Railsplitters won nearly every other category, outrebounding the Wolves 35-27. The LMU bench outscored Newberry’s second unit 22-12, but the Wolves accounted for a 28-18 scoring advantage in the paint.

Megan Pittman (Liberty, Ky.) was magnificent in the paint for the Lady Railsplitters, scoring a team-high 18 points on 7-of-15 shooting while leading all players with eight rebounds. Josey Harding (Middletown, Ohio) and Britney Guy (Locust Grove, Ga.) contributed eight points apiece, while Kiara Rawls (Killeen, Texas) pitched in six points in 20 minutes off the bench.

The only senior to appear in Wednesday’s contest, Katrina Ottesen (Chandler, Ariz.) struggled in her final appearance in the Blue and Gray. She scored two points and grabbed three rebounds before fouling out in 19 minutes.

The Lady Railsplitters led for a good chunk of the first half, assuming an 8-2 edge on a Shea Coker (Knoxville, Tenn.) bucket at 15:23. But that would be LMU’s last point for nearly seven minutes as Newberry churned out a 9-0 spurt to take an 11-8 lead. A Rawls jumper ended that drought and a Guy layup put the Lady Railsplitters back in front 14-13 at 5:41, but an old-fashioned three-point play from Nicola Handreck gave the Wolves a 20-16 lead with 3:09 left. Samantha Creed brought her first-half scoring total to 13 and sent the Wolves into the break with a 26-22 cushion by pitching in a layup with five seconds left.

Newberry assumed control early in the second half, but the Lady Railsplitters battled tough to keep it close throughout. A bucket by Pittman gave LMU a 31-29 lead at 17:07, but the Wolves followed that up by scoring eight unanswered points to mount a 37-31 advantage by the 14:29 mark. A Harding free throw chopped the deficit to 39-34, but Creed’s jumper at the 11:18 mark pressed Newberry’s lead to 43-34. The lead reached 10 at 10:51 on a layup by Haylee Lepaio.

The Lady Railsplitters nearly erased every bit of that deficit over the next four minutes, using a Pittman jumper and two free throws to make it a 49-48 game with 6:47 to play.

It was all Newberry from there, though, as the Wolves closed on a 17-9 run to finish off the Lady Railsplitters. A Handreck three-pointer pushed Newberry’s lead to 59-51 at the 3:31 mark, while two Colleen Leung free throws made it 61-54 with 2:31 left. The deficit grew back to double digits on two more Handreck free throws with 13 seconds left. Guy buried a three-pointer with 10 seconds left to trim the final margin just a bit.

Newberry finished shooting 46 percent (23-for-50) from the field, 40 percent (6-for-15) from three and 82.4 percent (14-for-17) from the free throw line.

Creed led all players with 20 points on 8-for-16 shooting. Handreck pitched in 19 points on 6-for-10 shooting, while Haylee Lepaio notched seven points and seven rebounds in 35 minutes. Jaya Schultz and Leung chipped in eight points apiece.


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