GREENEVILLE, Tenn. --- The Tusculum women's basketball team will open its 2017-18 season by hosting the South Atlantic Conference/Conference Carolinas Challenge at Pioneer Arena on Friday and Saturday.
The Pioneers will welcome conference rival Mars Hill and Conference Carolina foes King and Converse to the two-day classic, which tips off with two games Friday afternoon and concludes with two games Saturday night. Daily admission to the Challenge is $5 per person.
Tusculum finished 6-20 last season and 5-17 in the South Atlantic Conference, tying for eighth in the final league standings. The Pioneers, who were picked eighth in the SAC preseason poll, welcome back three starters from last year's team, including preseason second-team All-SAC forward Kasey Johnson who averaged 15.8 points and 6.4 rebounds per game last season.
Mars Hill was chosen 11th in the SAC poll after compiling a 7-21 overall record and 5-17 in the conference last year. The Lions have a new look this season, with just two players returning from last year's squad who are joined by a group of 12 freshmen and five transfers.
King is coming off the first NCAA Division II Championship tournament appearance last season, after winning the Conference Carolinas tournament and finishing 25-7 overall and 19-3 in the league. The Tornado, picked second in the conference preseason poll, lost their top five scorers from a year ago but return starting guard Arnelle Collins and several key bench contributors.
Converse went 5-21 overall and finished 4-18 in Conference Carolinas a year ago. The Valkyries are led by junior guard Brianna James, who was named third-team All-Conference last season after averaging a team-best 15.8 points per game. Converse was picked eighth in the Conference Carolinas preseason poll.
King and Mars Hill will meet in the opening game of the Challenge on Friday at 1 p.m., followed at 3 p.m. by Tusculum against Converse. Action will resume Saturday at 6 p.m. as Mars Hill faces Converse, with Tusculum and King taking to the court at 8 p.m.
Coverage of all four games of the SAC/Conference Carolinas Challenge will be available through multimedia links at tusculumpioneers.com.
South Atlantic Conference/Conference Carolinas Challenge
at Pioneer Arena, Greeneville, Tenn.