CLEVELAND, Tenn. --- The Lee University men's basketball team placed four players in double figures as the undefeated Flames led through out most of the night in an 83-67 win over visiting Tusculum Wednesday night at Walker Arena.
The loss spoiled the outstanding shooting performance of Tusculum junior Peyton Woods who scored a career-high 28 points on 8-of-12 shooting, including five 3-pointers and going 7-of-8 at the free throw line.
Lee (3-0) shot 29-of-53 from the field for 55 percent, including 58 percent in the first half as the Flames led by as many as 13 points in the first 20 minutes. The Pioneers finished the night shooting 21-of-62 for 34 percent, including 33 percent from 3-point territory (11-of-33). Lee also out-rebounded the Pioneers by a 41-25 margin, including 16-9 on the offensive boards resulting in 16 second-chance points.
LU's Ryan Montgomery led the Flames with 16 points, while Cody Jones and former Pioneer Keaton Dotson tallied 14 points apiece. Jones and Dotson each poured in four 3-pointers for the Flames.
Tusculum guard Donovan Donaldson finished with 18 points on 6-of-9 shooting, including 3-of-5 from beyond the arc. Zailan Peeper added eight markers, while Caleb Hodnett was TC's leading board-getter with five rebounds.
The Flames jumped out to an 18-7 lead through the first 9:11 of the contest. Tusculum responded with a 17-7 run to trim the deficit to one at 25-24 with eight minutes left in the half following five straight points from Donaldson in a seven-second span. He connected on a jumper and stole the in-bounds pass and made the ensuing layup and was fouled. He made the free throw to convert the three-point play.
But Lee answered with 9-2 run to extend the lead back to eight at 34-26 at the 6:14 mark of the half. The Flames pushed the lead back out to double digits with an 8-1 run, capped off by a Colton Blevins layup for a 42-29 lead with 2:13 remaining in the period.
Trey Blevins came off the TC bench and his first shot of the year was good for a three-pointer to make it 42-32. Dotson converted a layup to push the Lee advantage to a dozen, but Woods connected on a long trey just before the buzzer as Lee led 44-35 at the intermission.
The Pioneers extended the momentum early in the second period as TC opened with an 11-2 run to trim the LU lead to three at 49-46 following a Peeler bucket with 16:50 left in the game.
Lee led by double digits on two occasions over the next five minutes, including 62-51 at the 11:43 mark.
TC went on a 7-2 spurt to get to within five at 63-58 after a Woods' trey with 10:18 to go. But Lee moved the lead out to 16 with a 12-1 run over the next 7:25 to lead 75-59.
Lee ran up the score to a 19-point cushion with a Montgomery dunk with 18 seconds left. Donaldson canned a three-pointer in the final seconds to provide the final margin.
Tusculum returns to action on Saturday when they travel to Belmont Abbey for a 4 p.m. contest. Tusculum and Lee will meet in a rematch on Tuesday in TC's home opener at Pioneer Arena.