WINGATE, N.C. --- Tusculum senior Donovan Donaldson poured in a career-high 32 points to lead the Pioneers to an 80-77 overtime win at Wingate Saturday afternoon in South Atlantic Conference men's basketball action at Cuddy Arena.
Tusculum (8-8, 4-4 SAC) posts its fourth consecutive victory and snaps a seven-game losing streak at Wingate, winning at Cuddy Arena for the first time since 2011 when TU won in double-overtime, 76-74.
Donaldson finished the game going 13-of-23 from the floor including a career-high six 3-pointers as he went 6-of-12 from beyond the arc. He also dished out three assists including his pass to Brandon Mitchell who sent the game into extra time with his dunk with eight seconds left in regulation.
TU's Tariq Jenkins came off the bench to post 12 points, six rebounds and four assists while Dillon Smith contributed 11 markers going 3-for-5 from three-point territory. Cam King tallied a game-high 13 rebounds to go along with his six points and matched a season-best with four blocked shots.
Wingate's Marco Haskins led the Bulldogs (10-7, 6-3 SAC) with 17 points, while Jakob Dawkins and Frankie Johnson finished with 16 points apiece.
Mitchell came off the bench in the second half for the Pioneers to finish with eight points going 4-of-6 at the free throw line, including 3-of-4 in overtime as he made two free throws to tie the game at 77-77 with 1:37 left in overtime. He then made one of two free throws with 51.2 seconds left in what would be the winning point, as Tusculum led 78-77.
Trailing by one, Dawkins got off a shot with 37 seconds remaining which was hauled in by Jenkins. TU worked the clock down and Donaldson capped his scoring day with a 15-foot jumper from the left with 10 seconds remaining and an 80-77 lead. The Bulldogs inbounded the ball got off a desperation shot at the buzzer which was no good as the Pioneers prevailed.
The game was a back-and-forth affair which included 14 ties and 22 lead changes, including 12 times in the second half and overtime periods.
Tusculum, who led 32-30 at halftime, saw the Bulldogs score the first six points of the second half to take a 36-32 following a Haskins' jumper. The lead exchanged hands six times over a span of nine minutes as Wingate led 59-54 with 8:27 remaining following an offensive tip-in by Johnson.
But after a Tusculum timeout, the Pioneers went on a 15-2 run including 10 straight points as the visitors jumped out to its largest lead of the game at 69-61 with 4:37 left in the regulation.
The Bulldogs didn't give up as Wingate responded with nine straight points including Dawkins' three-pointer from the left corner to retake the lead with 2:12 remaining on the clock.
Donaldson snapped the TU drought with his driving layup with 1:54 left for a 71-70 Pioneer lead. Wingate missed a three-pointer Quantra Taylor kept the possession alive with an offensive board with one minute remaining. Emarius Logan capitalized on the second change and connected on the go-ahead three-pointer from the left side with 38 seconds remaining and a 73-71 lead.
After a Wingate timeout, Tusculum worked the ball to Donaldson as he drove down the middle of the lane and passed to Mitchell who went up strong with the game-tying slam with eight seconds on the scoreboard and a 73-73 tie. Logan got off a three-pointer with four seconds left but it was off target sending the game to overtime.
Wingate scored the first points in the extra frame as Haskins connected on a jumper with 4:31 to go and a 75-73 lead. TU tied it 24 seconds later when Jenkins made a layup and was fouled on the play. But he missed the free throw try as the game remained tied at 75-75.
Tusculum came up empty on its next trip of the floor and the Bulldogs drew a foul as Haskins made his two free throws to take a 77-75 lead with 3:30 remaining.
Both teams went scoreless for the next two minutes. Smith got off a jumper but Mitchell came down with the rebound and was fouled. He made his two free throws to tie the contest for a 14th time.
Wingate turned the ball over with 1:18 remaining as Tusculum came down the court with a chance to take the lead. Jenkins driving layup came off the rim, but once again Mitchell came down with the clutch board and was fouled. He missed the first free throw, but made the second to give the Pioneers a 78-77 lead with 51 seconds to go.
TU edged Wingate 45-41 in rebounding, but the Bulldogs held a 16-15 edge on the offensive boards.
Tusculum finished the game shooting 28-of-63 from the floor for 44.4 percent and 9-of-21 from three-point land for 43 percent. Wingate fired 26-of-69 for 38 percent and connected on 10 of its 34 three-point tried for 29 percent. WU shot 15-of-18 at the free throw line (83.3%) while Tusculum went 15-of-22 (68%).
The Pioneers return to action Monday afternoon at 4 p.m. when they host Newberry for a SAC clash at Pioneer Arena. The game is a rescheduled from the Dec. 9 contest that was postponed due to snow.