BELMONT, N.C. --- Tusculum University pulled away in the second half for a 76-55 victory over King University in the South Atlantic Conference/Conference Carolinas Challenge Saturday afternoon on the campus of Belmont Abbey College.
The Pioneers (2-0) were led by Sydney Wilson with a game-high 19 points, with Yolizma Cupidan adding 15 points and eight rebounds. Kendrea Duke had 11 points, eight rebounds and four blocked shots as Tusculum outscored King 47-28 in the second half.
Kristen Cupples led the Tornado (1-1) with 10 points, but was the only player to reach double figures as King shot 31 percent (20-for-64) from the field and turned the ball over 23 times which led to 23 points for Tusculum.
King led 34-32 early in the third quarter, but Tusculum went on a 10-0 run to take the lead for good before leading by as many as 23 points in the fourth quarter. The Pioneers outrebounded the Tornado by a 52-39 margin, including 16 offensive rebounds which were turned into 14 second-chance points.
The Tornado scored the first basket of the game on a layup by Trinity Lee with 8:27 left in the first quarter, but King would not score again for 7 1/2 minutes as the Pioneers would run off 10 straight points. King missed 11 consecutive shots and turned the ball over five times during the drought, which ended on a three-pointer by Cupples with 54 seconds to play in the quarter. However, a three-pointer by Maddie Sutton and a layup by Jalia Arnwine at the buzzer gave Tusculum a 15-5 lead after one quarter.
King reversed their fortunes to start the second quarter, opening with an 11-2 run to pull within 17-16 on a three-pointer by Madison Davis with 6:20 to go in the half. The Tornado would tie the game at 19-19 on a three-point play by Arielle Holloway with 4:27 to play in the quarter, and go ahead 24-23 as Kori West made a layup with 3:10 remaining. Tusculum would get the lead right back on a layup by Wilson, but West restored the Tornado's lead at 26-25 with 1:30 left in the half. Cupidan gave Tusculum the lead at the half at 29-27 with two free throws with 14 seconds left.
Wilson led all players with 10 points in the first half for the Pioneers while Cupidan had seven points. Tusculum shot 11-for-34 (32.4 percent) from the field in the half, but forced King into 13 turnovers. West led the Tornado with nine points in the first half, all in the second quarter, as King shot 31.3 percent (10-for-32) as a team.
Lee scored in the first minute of the second half to tie the game at 29-29, and Taylor Freeman pushed the Tornado ahead 34-32 with 7:06 remaining in the third quarter. A layup by Duke tied the game at 34 on the next Pioneer possession, sparking a 10-0 run that featured eight straight points from Cupidan, the last two on a layup with 3:11 left in the quarter for a 42-34 Tusculum lead. King, which missed six straight shots during the Pioneer run, finally snapped their drought on a three-point play by Ali Golden. Two buckets from Arnwine were part of an 8-0 Pioneer run that sent Tusculum to the fourth quarter with a 52-42 advantage.
Back-to-back three-pointers from Wilson and Lovely Locklear gave Tusculum a 58-42 lead in the first minute of the fourth quarter, and Duke had two field goals during another run of nine points that left the Pioneers ahead 69-46 with 5:40 remaining. Mya Belton added a pair of baskets down the stretch as Tusculum locked down its second double-digit victory to open the season.
Arnwine went 3-for-5 from the field and finished with six points in 12 minutes off the bench for the Pioneers, while Martoria Patton hit all three of her shots for six points to go with four rebounds. Tusculum scored 26 points off its bench to 22 by King, which was led by seven points from Davis and six from Holloway.
The Pioneers will return to action on Thursday, Nov. 15 with a trip to Clayton State for a non-conference game beginning at 5:30 p.m.