In what ended up as practically a wire-to-wire victory, the Lenoir-Rhyne women’s basketball team defeated Newberry College 70-44 in South Atlantic Conference action on Saturday afternoon in Hickory.
The Bears (5-9, 3-5 SAC) won all four quarters and surrendered the lead only twice to the Wolves (7-6, 4-4), pulling away for good in the final quarter by outscoring the opposition 19-4.
As expected in a game like this, Lenoir-Rhyne held a sizable advantage in shooting percentage, assists, fast break points, bench points and a litany of other categories.
“When you talk about stats in our program that really define us, we did all those today,” head coach Cam Sealey said after the game.
The Bears were led in scoring by a freshman and a senior. Karlie Bearden scored 16 points off the bench, all in the second half. Sealey said she challenged the four-year player at the halftime break after Lenoir-Rhyne went into the half scoreless outside of the starting five.
“We were doing all we could to get her the ball,” Sealey said. “When she does that, it’s tough to guard at the post spot.”
Ashley Woodroffe set her career high in scoring for the second straight game, following up a 14-point performance Wednesday against Carson-Newman with 16 points on Saturday.
The Georgia native has grown more conﬁdent in her drives as the sea- son has worn on. Wood- roofe may be the fastest player in the conference end-to-end, but recently has found ways to change speed and direction to better help her hone that break-neck pace she is capable of.
“It’s funny, she came to our game last year against Carson-Newman, and she said ‘Coach Cam I think I can help you’ and I said ‘I think you can too!’” Sealey said with a laugh.
“What you see out of her in games, she brings that every day in practice, and that’s only going to help her become a better player.”
TheBears’ 20 assists were the second-highest output on the season, behind a December win against Lincoln-Memorial.
In addition to Bearden and Woodroffe, Kennedy Weigt and Madeline Hardy also scored double digits, registering 14 and 12 points, respectively.
Lenoir-Rhyne was able to create much of its offense out of defense, as the Bears forced 18 turnovers and held Newberry to 27 percent shooting.
Long rebounds and steals led to run-outs and open layups or 3-point shots. Weigt, Bearden and freshman Blair Barefoot notched two steals apiece.
Sealey said the defensive pressure came at an opportune time with UVA- Wise, which led the SAC in ﬁeld goal percentage as of Saturday, up next.
“I would hope they’d see we held Newberry to 44today, and be thinking they need to be doing some- thing,” Sealey said of the Cavaliers.
Lenoir-Rhyne will travel to face UVA-Wise on Wednesday, the ﬁrst of a three-game road stretch. Tip-off is scheduled for 5:30p.m. in Wise, Virginia.
Newberry 73, Lenoir- Rhyne 72
After making a combined 34 3-pointers in the last two games, the Lenoir-Rhyne men’s basketball team struggled to shoot the long ball against Newberry College, falling in SAC action Saturday evening in Hickory.
Sophomore Tyson McClain hit a 3-pointer falling out of bounds as the buzzer sounded to bring the Bears (7-6, 3-5 SAC) to within one point, but no foul was called on the defender contesting, thus ending the game.
The Wolves (8-6, 4-4) focused on defending the 3-point line and playing a physical brand of on-ball defense against Lenoir Rhyne. The bruising style took a while for the home team to adjust to, Lenoir- Rhyne coach Everick Sullivan said after the game.
“Because you dig yourselves a hole in the ﬁrst half, it ends up being a little bit too late of a rally,” Sullivan said, adding he anticipated some players settling for the long ball due to recent success.
“Sometimes until you take one on the chin you don’t understand. It’s a learning lesson for the guys.”
The second half comeback was buoyed by a group of players, with junior R.J. Gunn mixing his usual bag of layups with contact, step-back mid- range fadeaways and corner 3-point shots, junior Mason Hawks continuing his hot shooting by going 5-of-9 from deep, and McClain providing 14 points off the bench.
Despite the effort and a late 11-4 run to give the home team a chance to tie or take the lead with under 30 seconds left, the Bears fell just short.
Sullivan credited the opposition for executing down the stretch, particularly Angelo Sales Jr., New- berry’s leading scorer on the season.
After a pair of Marshall Lange free throws for the Wolves to bring the Newberry lead to nine with ﬁve minutes to go, McClain hit a 3 from the corner, then converted an old-fashioned three-point play off a Darius Simmons steal to cut the lead to three.
Sales Jr. hit two tough shots, with a Gunn 3 sandwiched in between for Lenoir-Rhyne. After a timeout, Sales Jr. went to the line and missed both, giving the Bears an opportunity to cut the lead to a single possession.
McClain ended up getting fouled on a loose ball recovery, and hit both freebies to cut the lead to two.
After a Newberry miss, Lenoir-Rhyne had an opportunity to tie or take the lead, but the possession ended in a missed jumper by Gunn.
The game concluded with Luke Gibson making it a two-possession game with a pair of free throws before McClain’s ﬁnal shot as time expired.
“I think that last possession we could have gotten a better look, I think we settled for some tough shots down the stretch,” Sullivan said. “The league is tough. It’s hard to win, even when you’re at home and you feel like you should win.”
The head coach also pointed out Lenoir-Rhyne was able to get into the bonus early in both halves, but wasn’t able to take full advantage, either by not driving enough or missing some free throws.
“If you really want to be a good team, and I know they do,” Sullivan said, “you’ve got to set up your perimeter game with ball-strong drives, playing inside-outside and being able to adjust to the moments.”
After taking four out of ﬁve home games in a homestand to open up 2020, the Bears will hit the road for a three-game stretch.
Sullivan said the key will be adjusting to how teams play his team in a variety of ways, and how to take what the opposition gives them.
“There are a lot of teams in the league who are going to throw different stuff at you … What do we do when something that we do well and you’re conﬁdent about is not working? We’ve got to understand and just make an adjustment.”
Lenoir-Rhyne will travel to Wise, Virginia, to take on UVA-Wise Wednesday, with tip-off scheduled for 7:30 p.m.