MARS HILL, N.C. --- Tusculum drilled a season-high 15 three-pointers as a team in a 98-68 victory over Mars Hill in South Atlantic Conference women's basketball action Wednesday night at Stanford Arena.
Sydney Wilson tied her career high with six three-pointers and scored a game-high 19 points for the Pioneers (9-3, 4-2 SAC), who received a season-high 15 points from Jalia Arnwine and 13 points and a career-best 11 assists from Mia Long. Martoria Patton and Maddie Sutton each had seven points and 11 rebounds for the Pioneers, who shot 47.4 percent (37-for-78) from the field and went 15-for-40 from three-point range.
The 15 three-pointers surpassed Tusculum's previous season high of 14 against King on Nov. 11, and are tied for the second-most three-pointers in a game in program history. The 15 threes were the most for the Pioneers since hitting 15 against Rollins on Nov. 23, 2013 and second only to the 18 three-pointers hit against Mars Hill on Feb. 21, 2007. The 40 three-point attempts were a school record, breaking the mark of 39 attempts set at Columbus State on Dec. 29, 2006.
Brooke Vilcinskas led the Lions (1-13, 0-6 SAC) with 15 points while Mariah Johnson and Alexus Grubbs had 13 points apiece. Grubbs also had 11 rebounds for the Lions, who shot 38.3 percent (23-for-60) from the field and were outrebounded 46-38 by the Pioneers in dropping their 12th straight game. The 30-point margin matched the largest-ever win for Tusculum over Mars Hill, equaling a 95-65 Pioneer win on Jan. 30, 2008, and was the biggest victory for either team in 25 all-time meetings at Stanford Arena.
After the Lions scored the first points of the game on a three-pointer by Grubbs, the Pioneers came back with 10 consecutive points over a two-minute span. Wilson hit a pair of three-pointers to help the Pioneers extend their lead to 13-6 with 6:13 left in the first quarter, and a Kasey Johnson layup gave Tusculum its largest lead of the quarter at 19-8 with 4:48 to go in the period. Back-to-back layups from Patton in the final minute of the quarter allowed Tusculum to carry a 25-18 lead into the second quarter.
Tusculum extended their run by scoring the first 11 points of the second quarter to take a 36-18 lead after back-to-back three-pointers from Lovely Locklear and Callie Patterson, the latter with 7:36 left in the first half. Two more three-pointers from Wilson were part of a 15-2 run that pushed the Tusculum lead to 45-22 with 4:26 to play in the quarter. Arnwine closed the half by scoring the final five points for the Pioneers, who took a 56-28 lead to the locker room.
The Pioneers shot 56.4 percent (22-for-39) from the field in the half, including 8-for-20 from three-point range, while holding the Lions to 40 percent (10-for-25) from the floor. Wilson went 4-for-8 from the field, all from beyond the arc, and led Tusculum with 12 points while Long had seven points and five assists. Sutton had a game-high seven rebounds in the first half for the Pioneers, who outrebounded the Lions by a 19-13 margin.
Mariah Johnson paced the Lions with 10 points in the first half, with three rebounds each from Shayla Smith and Cierra Hampton. Mars Hill had 13 turnovers in the opening half, which led to 18 points for Tusculum.
Two more three-pointers from Wilson in the early stages of the third quarter pushed the Pioneer lead to 67-33 with 7:05 remaining in the third quarter. Tusculum continued to build its lead in the latter minutes of the quarter, carrying an 80-51 lead into the final period following a layup by Johnson in the final seconds. Tusculum's lead swelled to 98-60 as Arnwine, Sutton and Monica Roberts hit three-pointers in a span of just over a minute, but the Pioneers went scoreless in the final 2:27 as the Lions closed the game with eight straight points.
Wilson's six three-pointers matched her career high set in the Pioneers' previous game at Wingate on Dec. 16, and over the past five games she is averaging 17.2 points per game for the Pioneers. Arnwine, who shot 6-for-10 from the field and hit three three-pointers in just 13 minutes, easily surpassed her previous season best of eight points set at Bluefield State on Nov. 25.
Long's 11 assists broke her previous career best of seven set three times last season at Concordia (Michigan), and were the most for a Pioneer since Jasmine Gunn had 13 helpers against Lees-McRae on Nov. 22, 2008. She also finished with six rebounds and five steals for the Pioneers, shooting 5-for-8 from the field in 32 minutes of playing time.
Johnson also reached double figures for the Pioneers with 12 points in 25 minutes to go along with five rebounds, while Patterson had eight points and three assists off the Tusculum bench. Four players finished with seven points apiece for the Pioneers - Sutton, Locklear, Patton and Yolizma Cupidan. Jasmine Williams came off the Tusculum bench to register three of the team's nine blocked shots in six minutes of action, while Sutton had a pair of blocks to go along with six offensive rebounds in 22 minutes.
All seven Lions who played in the game finished with at least six points, with Smith hitting 4-for-4 from the field and scoring eight points in eight minutes off the bench. Gabby Gianikos added seven points and three rebounds, with six points apiece from Hampton and Valeriya Pokrovskaya.
Tusculum scored 22 points off 19 turnovers from Mars Hill, while the Lions had 13 points off a season-low 11 Pioneer miscues. Tusculum outscored Mars Hill in the paint by a 42-26 margin and had a 16-4 edge in second-chance points. Tusculum's bench also outscored the Mars Hill reserves by a 40-23 margin in the victory.
The Pioneers will play their third straight conference road game when they travel to Lenoir-Rhyne to face the Bears on Saturday at 2 p.m.