GREENEVILLE, Tenn. --- Tusculum held Mars Hill scoreless for nearly 10 minutes during a 23-0 first-half run, and the Pioneers went on to a 100-39 victory over the Lions in South Atlantic Conference women's basketball action Wednesday evening at Pioneer Arena.
The Pioneers (14-6, 9-5 SAC) shot a season-high 50.6 percent (41-for-81) from the field and sank 13 three-pointers to snap a two-game losing streak and send the Lions (1-22, 0-15 SAC) to their 21st consecutive loss. Tusculum reached the 100-point mark for the first time since a 103-96 victory over Francis Marion in the NCAA Division II Southeast Region semifinals on March 13, 2010, while the 61-point victory was the largest for the Pioneers since a 117-38 win over Virginia Intermont on Dec. 30, 2009 and the largest ever for Tusculum against a SAC opponent.
Mia Long and Callie Patterson shared the game high in scoring for the Pioneers with 20 points apiece, with Long shooting 10-for-11 from the field and Patterson 7-for-11 from the floor, including four three-pointers. Long, who added a game-high seven assists, has made 38 of her last 51 field-goal attempts over the last six games (74.5 percent). Her 10-for-11 performance tied for the second-best single-game shooting performance in school history (minimum 10 attempts) with Susan Starnes, who went 10-for-11 against Clinch Valley on Jan. 24, 1996. Jasmine Gunn holds the record with a 10-for-10 performance against Virginia Intermont in the aforementioned 2009 win.
Patterson's 20 points were a season high for the Pioneers, who had all 10 players who saw action finish with at least four points. Sydney Wilson also reached double figures for the Pioneers, sinking five three-pointers and finishing with 15 points in 19 minutes. Tusculum led 47-20 at halftime and outscored Mars Hill 53-19 in the second half, while outscoring the Lions 30-0 on fast-break points, 25-2 on second-chance points, 27-7 on points off turnovers, 50-12 in the paint and 46-8 off the bench.
Mariah Johnson led Mars Hill with 14 points, but the Lions shot 23.2 percent (13-for-56) from the field and hit just three of 22 attempts from three-point range. The Lions committed 24 turnovers and shot 20.7 percent from the field in the second half. Alexus Grubbs and Jewel Walston had six points apiece for the Lions, with Walston grabbing a game-high nine rebounds. Tusculum outrebounded Mars Hill 55-32 in the game, with 19 of the Pioneers' boards coming on the offensive glass.
Mars Hill used a run of seven straight points to take an early 9-4 lead following a three-pointer by Grubbs with 6:02 left in the first quarter. However, the Lions would miss their next 11 shots and turn the ball over nine times over the next 9:38 as the Pioneers scored 23 consecutive points. Wilson hit three three-pointers in the first quarter to help the Pioneers to a 20-9 lead at the end of the first quarter, then added another at the start of the second quarter to build the advantage to 23-9.
After a basket by the Lions' Gabby Gianikos snapped the Tusculum run, the Pioneers answered with a 16-2 surge behind three buckets from Kendrea Duke and two three-pointers from Maddie Sutton, the latter giving Tusculum a 43-13 lead with 2:24 left in the half.
Tusculum led 47-20 at halftime as Wilson led all players with 12 points and Long added eight for the Pioneers. Duke had six points and five rebounds for the Pioneers and Sutton had six points as Tusculum shot 42.9 percent (18-for-42) from the field in the half. Three players finished with four points apiece in the first half for the Lions, who were 7-for-27 (25.9 percent) from the field and 1-for-9 from three-point range as a team.
Back-to-back three-pointers from Kasey Johnson and Patterson helped the Pioneers extend their lead to 64-29 with 3:38 left in the third quarter, and Tusculum closed the period with a 12-2 run to head into the final quarter with a 73-31 lead. Patterson scored 10 points for the Pioneers in the quarter, while Johnson hit a pair of three-pointers and added six points.
Tusculum opened the fourth quarter by closing out a 15-0 run on three consecutive layups by Long, who went 6-for-6 from the field and had 12 points in the final quarter. Another run of 10 straight points gave the Pioneers a 95-36 lead with 3:07 left, and Patterson closed out the scoring with by drilling a three-pointer with 16 seconds remaining to push Tusculum into triple digits.
Duke and Sutton had eight points and six rebounds apiece off the bench, with Sutton matching her season high with four assists. Patterson and Lovely Locklear each had four assists as well, and Locklear matched her career high with a season-best six rebounds and also scored six points in 27 minutes of action. Also off the Tusculum bench, Deniz Dalkiran had four points, five rebounds and three blocked shots in 14 minutes.
Among the starters, Johnson finished with eight points and seven rebounds in 20 minutes of action, Yolizma Cupidan had six points and seven rebounds and Martoria Patton added five points and five rebounds.
The Pioneers will return to action Saturday, Feb. 10 at Coker against the Cobras. Tusculum defeated Coker 88-77 in the first meeting of the season between the teams at Pioneer Arena on Dec. 13.