BROOKLINE, Mass. - In what could have been the last home game in Newbury Women's Basketball history, Nighthawks sophomore Jaymesha Sanders (West Haven, Conn.) put on a show, finishing with a program-record 38 points to go with 18 rebounds in 34 minutes, leading the Newbury Nighthawks to a 79-60 victory over the Elms Blazers on Thursday night in New England Collegiate Conference play.
"I've had some bad games leading up to this," said Sanders. "I really had to focus in on this game and I needed to do what the team needed me to do, that's how I got it done."
Sanders shot 16-for-26 from the floor. The 16 made field goals are also a program-record. Senior Taylor Kelley (North Billerica, Mass.) stuffed the stat sheet with 15 points, six rebounds, four assists, and two steals. Senior Savannah Olsen (Battle Creek, Mich.) added 10 points while sophomore Tatianna Occena (Spring Valley, N.Y.) had a career-high seven assists.
Blazers junior Molly Moulton (North Adams, Mass.) scored a team-high 13 points in 29 minutes. Senior Niah Pantry (New Haven, Conn.) added 11 points and 14 rebounds. Sophomore Angelica Peguero-Flores (Springfield, Mass.) had six points and 10 rebounds.
The Nighthawks had one of their best first quarters this season, using a 13-0 run to open up a 17-4 lead in the opening quarter. Sanders already had 11 points and six rebounds in the first nine minutes. The Blazers did cut into the deficit with a 7-2 run to trail 19-11 after one quarter.
Second quarter, same as the first, with Newbury using a 12-3 scoring run to lead 31-14, their biggest margin of the half. But again, the Blazers found an answer in the late stages with a 10-1 run, including a pair of three's made by junior Samantha Lynes (Berlin, Conn.) to ultimately cut the Newbury lead to 38-27. Sanders walked off with 20 points at the half.
In the third, the Blazers managed to pull within two possessions, but over the last 6:06 of the quarter, the Nighthawks outscored the Blazers 21-6, including 12 points by Sanders to lead 63-41 after three quarters.
A fourth quarter layup with 3:30 remaining sealed the program-record for Sanders, who went on to add another layup in the quarter to finish with 38 points, as the Nighthawks took home the 19-point win, 79-60.
"We're all focusing and motivating each other," said Sanders. "We finally all realize that we all have that common goal that we need to get to and our practices are really helping us to that right now."
Kelley, who has been one of the Nighthawks most consistent players over the past two weeks, has scored at least 10 points in five consecutive games, longest such streak of her career, but she acknowledges the team for her success.
"It's a credit to everyone on this team," said Kelley. "I want everybody on this team to finish out the year together and have a great memory of Newbury."
The Nighthawks three-game winning streak matches their longest of the season and Head Coach Marc Taney has taken notice of the hard work of the team to return to this level.
"Tonight was a complete team effort," said Taney. "I know Jaymesha stands out with the school-record 38 points but this was a complete team effort."
Holding the Blazers to 31.6 percent, Taney continued to praise the team's defensive intensity for the win.
"Complete effort on the defensive end tonight," said Taney. "When we defend, we can play with anyone in this conference. But we have to continue to focus that our defense is what creates our offense."
As for the two-week stretch Kelley has been on, Taney said, "Taylor is playing like a true senior. She has been so so impressive to me."
The win moves the Nighthawks to 10-12 (8-7 NECC) while the loss drops the Blazers to 10-12 (6-9 NECC).
The Nighthawks remaining schedule comes on the road against teams that are tied or ahead of them in the conference standings. The road starts Saturday afternoon with a 1:00 p.m. tip at New England College. The Blazers host Dean on Saturday at 1:00 p.m.