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Lady Railsplitters' late rally falls short in 69-60 loss at Newberry

NEWBERRY, SC -- The Lady Railsplitters nearly doubled their first-half point total with 39 second-half scores, but came up short in their comeback effort, as they were defeated by the Newberry College Wolves, 69-60, in Newberry, South Carolina in South Atlantic Conference women's basketball action on Sunday afternoon. Lincoln Memorial University drops to an even 4-4 on the season and 0-2 in league play, while the Wolves improve to 5-2 on the year and 1-0 in conference.

The Lady Railsplitters struggled offensively in the first half of play, going 9-28 from the field (32.1%) en route to finding themselves in a 34-21 halftime hole. By the 16:14 mark of that half, the Wolves had established a 13-5 advantage following a pair of layups from Kendra Brown. They continued to hold sway by the halfway point of the first stanza at 19-10 after Haylee Lepaio scored a couple of baskets. Lepaio would score 13 first-half points to send the Wolves into the locker room holding a 34-21 advantage, while MaRanda Boddie led LMU with eight points in that frame. The Lady Railsplitters were forced into committing nine turnovers in that frame.

Coming out of the break, a pair of buckets from Lepaio and a three-pointer from Zara Pearson extended the Wolves' advantage to 41-24 by the 17:29 mark of the second half. LMU answered with a three from Haley Nelson and a layup by Kelsey Bradford to cut the deficit back to 12 in the ensuing possessions. That remained as the difference until the 11:24 mark when Newberry countered with a 8-0 run, capped with a layup from Tasia Holdorf to take the largest lead of the ballgame at 58-38 with 7:14 remaining to play.

From that juncture, the Lady Railsplitters implemented a full-court press to begin chipping away at Newberry's lead, cutting the score to 62-52 with a jumper from Mariah Richardson with 2:57 remaining. LMU continued to creep into the game, cutting the deficit to six in the closing minutes using a layup from Kelsey Bradford to make it 62-56 with 55 ticks left on the clock. Lincoln Memorial did not allow a field goal for the final 7:14 of play and forcing the Wolves into six turnovers over that span, however, Newberry used the free throw line to ice the game, going 12-13 from the charity stripe over that span to fight off the Lady Railsplitters, 69-60.

LMU fired at a 41.9% clip in the second half (13-31) and committed only five turnovers in that frame to cap the contest at 37.3% from the field. MaRanda Boddie headlined the Lady Railsplitters' offensive effort with 13 points to go along with a team-leading seven rebounds. Haley Nelson came off the bench to spark LMU with 12 points, four boards and two assists.

Mariah Richardson and Kelsey Bradford tallied 10 points apiece, while Bradford led the Lady Railsplitters along with Ralissa Nelson with three assists. Nelson added seven points in the losing effort.

The Lady Railsplitters recorded 12 steals in the contest, lead by Mariah Richardson's three take aways, as they forced the Wolves into 16 turnovers.

Newberry capped the game shooting 43.6% from the field (24-55) with 20 of their 24 buckets coming off of assists. Zara Pearson and Samantha Creed led all players by dishing out seven assists apiece. Haylee Lepaio was the difference in the game, as she notched a huge 25-point, 11-rebound performance and combined those figures with three blocks and three steals. Lepaio was an ultra-efficient 12-18 from the floor.

Zara Pearson nearly recorded a triple-double for the Wolves with 13 points, nine rebounds and seven assists. Lepaio and Pearson highlighted the Wolves' 43-30 margin of victory in the rebounding column with a combined 20 boards.

The Lady Railsplitters will step away from South Atlantic Conference play and look to snap a two-game slide this upcoming week, as they travel to Athens, West Virginia in the finale of a five-game road trip. LMU is slated to take on Concord University on December 6th at 5:30 p.m..

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