GREENEVILLE, Tenn. --- Donovan Donaldson scored a season-high 22 points including the 1,000th point of his collegiate career to lead the Tusculum University men's basketball team to a 95-78 South Atlantic Conference victory over Coker College Saturday afternoon at Pioneer Arena.
The Pioneers (6-8, 2-4 SAC) trailed 8-0 early only to follow with a 55-21 run to take a 26-point lead (55-29) late in the first half. But from a 26-point deficit (57-31) the Cobras would rally back going on a 34-13 run to trim the TU lead to 70-65 with nine minutes remaining. Tusculum would answer with a 16-5 run to put the game out of reach and secure its second straight victory during its current home-stand.
Donaldson matches the 22-point effort he posted last month against No. 19 Queens. He finished Saturday's game going 7-of-12 from the floor with four 3-pointers. TU also got 16 points from Dillon Smith and 14 from Tariq Jenkins as he went 10-of-12 at the free throw line. Austin Hall came off the bench to score a season-best 10 points while Adrian Cohen added a season-high nine markers going 4-of-5 from the floor.
Coker's Khalil Halls scored a team-high 19 points including 17 markers in the second half to spark the Cobras' comeback bid. Roy Ellis posted 14 points while LaDarius Williams and Larry Cooper tallied 12 and 10 points, respectively.
Tusculum's 95 points are a season-high as the Pioneers finished the game shooting 50 percent (32-of-64) from the floor while limiting Coker (3-11, 1-6 SAC) to 37.7 percent shooting on the day (23-61).
Tusculum held a 42-40 advantage in rebounding while outscoring the Coker bench by a 39-14 margin.
The contest was physical one as 54 fouls were called resulting in 74 combined free throw attempts. Coker went 26-of-36 at the charity stripe (72%), while Tusculum went 23-of-28 (60.5%). TU shot just 11-of-23 at the foul line in the first half (48%), but bounced back going 12-of-15 in the second period (80%).
Coker's Marquis Green had the hot hand early as the Cobras made their first three shots, including two treys from Green and a Cooper layup off a TU turnover as the visitors led 8-0 at the 18:50 mark of the half.
The Pioneers responded with a 12-3 run including back-to-back triples from Donaldson, four points from Trenton Gibson and a reverse dunk by Brandon Mitchell as TU took its first lead of the game at 12-11 with 15:51 left in the half.
Cooper halted the run with a layup for a 13-12 Coker advantage. TU scored the next seven points including an offensive board and put back by Hall as Tusculum led 18-13 with 12:48 left. The Tusculum lead fluctuated between three and nine points for the next five minutes. But with TU ahead 30-22, the Pioneers went on a 25-7 spurt capped off by a Donaldson three-pointer as Tusculum led 55-29 with 1:56 left in the half. During the run, TU scored 12 straight points including a three-point play by Smith while Green picked up his second technical foul of the half and his subsequent ejection from the game.
With the Pioneers lead 57-34 at the intermission, the Cobras came out of the locker room and proceeded to chip away at the deficit cutting the 26-point hole down to 17 at 63-46 following a 12-6 run to open the second half including four points from Williams and three-pointers by Halls and Chandley Lindsey.
Brandon Mitchell halted the run with a layup as the Pioneers led 65-46 with 15:17 left. But the Pioneers would go into a shooting drought over the next five minutes missing their next six shots while the Cobras used an 11-0 run to trim the TU lead to single digits at 65-57 with 10:25 remaining.
Donaldson made one of two free throws before Halls buried his second three-pointer of the game as the Cobras trailed 66-60 with 10 minutes to go.
Back-to-back buckets from Donaldson and Cohen pushed the Tusculum advantage back to 10 at 70-60 with 9:31 left. But Hals converted a three-point play and Williams hit a jumper as the Cobras were within five at 70-65 with nine minutes on the scoreboard.
TU would go onto score eight consecutive points to spark a 19-5 run to put the game out of reach as Tusculum led by 19 again at 89-70 following a Cohen three-point play.
Donaldson's 1,005 career points including his 569 points in his 40-game career at Tusculum as well as the 436 points he tallied in his two seasons at Trevecca Nazarene.
Tusculum will wrap up its three-game home-stand on Wednesday when they host arch rival Carson-Newman for "Pack the Arena" Night with the women's game beginning at 6 p.m. followed by the men's game at 8 p.m.