JEFFERSON CITY, Tenn. --- Mika Wester scored a game-high 27 points, including the 1,000th of her collegiate career, as third-ranked Carson-Newman defeated Tusculum 100-79 in South Atlantic Conference women's basketball action Wednesday evening at Holt Fieldhouse.
Wester shot 10-for-18 from the field and added six rebounds, seven assists and two blocked shots for the Eagles (24-1, 16-1 SAC), who won their 19th consecutive home game and reached triple figures for the 10th time this season.
Haris Price added 23 points and five assists and Kayla Marosites had 11 points and a game-high 18 rebounds for the Eagles, who trailed briefly in the opening minute before leading 44-36 at halftime. The Eagles scored 33 points in the third quarter to build their lead to 67-53 after three quarters, and pulled away in the fourth quarter to lock up their ninth win in the last 10 meetings with the Pioneers.
Sydney Wilson reached the 20-point mark for the third time this season with 23 points for the Pioneers (15-7, 10-6 SAC), who dropped into fifth place in the SAC one-half game behind Anderson and Catawba, who each won Wednesday night to improve to 11-6 in the league. Four players hit double figures for the Pioneers, with 12 points apiece from Kasey Johnson and Yolizma Cupidan and 11 off the bench from Lovely Locklear.
Tusculum shot 38.6 percent (27-for-70) from the field in the game, buoyed by a third quarter that saw the Pioneers connect on 11-of-16 shots (68.8 percent) and score 27 points in the period. For the remainder of the game, the Pioneers were successful on just 16-for-54 (29.6 percent) from the floor as a team.
Briana Smith finished with 19 points and seven rebounds for the Eagles, with Kelci Marosites the fifth to score in double figures for Carson-Newman with 10 points off the bench. The Eagles shot 48.7 percent (38-for-78) from the field and hit 56.7 percent (21-for-37) in the second half. Carson-Newman also outrebounded Tusculum by a 49-37 margin, including 16 offensive rebounds which the Eagles converted into 14 points.
The Pioneers scored the game's first points on a three-pointer by Cupidan, and led 5-2 after a layup by Martoria Patton. A three-pointer from Wester tied the game at 5-5 and triggered a 9-0 run for the Eagles, capped by a layup by Wester with 6:52 left in the opening quarter. Carson-Newman led 15-7 following a Price layup, but the Pioneers came back with six points in a row on baskets from Mia Long and Locklear and two free throws by Kendrea Duke, the latter with 3:20 to go in the period. Back-to-back baskets from Price highlighted a six-point spurt from the Eagles that have Carson-Newman a 21-13 lead at the end of the first quarter.
A putback by Kayla Marosites extended the Carson-Newman lead to 23-13 in the opening minute of the third quarter, but Wilson hit two three-pointers in a row and followed with a steal and layup to personally cut the Eagle advantage to 23-21 with 8:16 to play in the half. The Eagles would score seven straight points to go ahead 36-24 following a free throw by Smith with 3:50 to go in the second quarter, and built the margin to as many as 14 points before Tusculum rallied to within 44-36 at halftime.
Wester led all players with 17 points in the first half for the Eagles, while Price and Smith had eight points apiece. Carson-Newman shot 41.5 percent (17-for-41) from the field in the half but went 3-for-7 on three-pointers and 7-for-8 at the foul line. Wilson's eight points led Tusculum in the first half, with seven points by Duke and six from Cupidan. Tusculum shot 33.3 percent (12-for-36) from the field in the half and went 4-for-15 on three-pointers as a team.
In the third quarter, the Eagles boosted their lead back to 11 points before the Pioneers cut the deficit to 47-41 following a three-pointer from Johnson and a layup by Locklear. Tusculum trailed 55-45 after a layup by Cupidan with 7:18 to play in the third quarter, but Carson-Newman went on a 12-2 run to go on top 67-47 on a layup by Price with 3:35 remaining in the period. The Eagles led 77-63 after three quarters as they shot 60 percent (12-for-20) from the field in the quarter. Kayla Marosites scored nine points, Smith eight and Price seven in the quarter for the Eagles, while Wilson led the Pioneers with 10 points in the period, with six each from Cupidan and Locklear.
Tusculum trailed by 13 points at 87-74 following two free throws by Wilson with 3:33 left, but Carson-Newman outscored the Pioneers 13-5 the rest of the game. Price scored eight points in the final quarter for the Eagles, while Kayla Marosites had eight of her 18 rebounds in the fourth period.
Johnson and Cupidan each shot 5-for-11 from the field and hit a pair of three-pointers for the Pioneers, while Locklear was 5-for-8 from the floor in 15 minutes off the bench. Duke finished with seven points and a team-high nine rebounds in 14 minutes before fouling out, and Long had a game-high eight assists to go along with four points and four rebounds. Patton added four points and seven rebounds for Tusculum, with Maddie Sutton contributing four points, four rebounds and four assists in 24 minutes of action.
Tusculum finished the game with 20 turnovers which led to 22 points for Carson-Newman, while the Eagles had 15 turnovers and the Pioneers scored 16 points off the miscues. The Eagles had 30 fast-break points in the game, while the Pioneers finished with 24, and Carson-Newman had a 56-38 edge in points in the paint.
The Pioneers will host Lenoir-Rhyne on Saturday at 2 p.m. at Pioneer Arena for the program's annual "Play 4Kay" game. The initiative, sponsored by the Women's Basketball Coaches Association, is designed to raise breast cancer awareness in the memory of former North Carolina State head coach Kay Yow.