MORROW, Ga. --- Callie Patterson banked in a three-pointer at the buzzer as Tusculum University overcame a fourth-quarter drought to defeat Clayton State University 65-62 in women's basketball action Thursday evening.
Patterson's game-winner came after a fourth-quarter drought that began after the Pioneers (3-0) took a 62-52 lead with 9:15 left, then turned the ball over 13 times to the Lakers (2-1), who rallied to tie the game on a foul shot by Madison Newby with 34.6 seconds left. Tusculum missed a potential winning shot with five seconds left, but got the ball back on a traveling violation on the rebound with 3.6 seconds remaining.
After inbounding the ball from the baseline to Martoria Patton at the top of the key, Patterson came around on a curl to the top of the three-point arc, and her off-balance rainbow jumper went high off glass and through the net as time expired to give the Pioneers their first win in the series since a 63-51 win over the top-ranked defending NCAA Division II champion Lakers on Nov. 25, 2011. It was the first buzzer-beater for the Pioneers since Shynese Whitener hit a three-pointer for a 73-70 overtime win over King on Nov. 14, 2015.
Mia Long, Sydney Wilson and Yolizma Cupidan each scored 11 points to lead the Pioneers, while Jalia Arnwine scored all 10 of her points in a five-minute span of the third quarter as part of a 17-2 run that erased a nine-point halftime deficit. Patterson had seven points off the bench for Tusculum, while Long added six steals.
Taneria Wilson led the Lakers with 19 points, six rebounds and six steals off the bench, while Aleisha Merriweather had 11 points and a game-high 12 rebounds and Velencia Johnson added 15 points. The Lakers outrebounded the Pioneers 51-36 and turned 21 offensive rebounds in 23 second-chance points, but fell in their third straight nailbiter against a South Atlantic Conference opponent. Clayton State opened the season with wins over Anderson (67-66) and 21st-ranked Wingate (56-54) over the weekend on its home court as part of the SAC/Peach Belt Conference Challenge.
Both teams struggled to handle the basketball, as Tusculum finished with 27 turnovers to 26 by Clayton State. The Pioneers scored 28 points off Laker turnovers, and saw Clayton State score 21 points off their miscues.
Clayton State grabbed an early 8-4 lead on a pair of baskets by Merriweather, but the Pioneers came back to tie the game at 8-8 on buckets by Cupidan and Patterson, the latter with 6:06 left in the first quarter. Tusculum would then go scoreless for four minutes as Clayton State went ahead 15-8 on a Merriweather layup with 2:13 to play in the quarter. However, Maddie Sutton hit back-to-back three-pointers as the Pioneers were able to climb back within 19-18 at the end of the opening quarter.
Clayton State maintained their slim lead until a run of six straight points was capped by a layup from Taneria Wilson and a 27-20 Laker lead with 6:35 left in the first half. Cupidan drilled a three-pointer to snap the run, but buckets from Wilson and Tatiana Foster extended the Clayton State lead to 31-23 with 5:44 to play in the half. Tusculum's Wilson connected on a three-pointer following Foster's hoop, but the Lakers ended the half on a 10-4 run to go to intermission with a 41-32 lead.
Tusculum shot 39.4 percent (13-for-33) from the field in the first half while Clayton State hit on 46.2 percent (18-for-39) as a team. The Lakers had a commanding 28-15 rebounding edge in the half, including 12 rebounds on the offensive glass which were turned into 16 second-chance points.
Merriweather and Wilson shared the team lead in scoring for Clayton State with 11 points each in the first half, while Merriweather had a game-high eight rebounds. For Tusculum, Cupidan led the way with nine points on 4-for-7 shooting along with three rebounds, while Long had eight points and three steals.
The Pioneers held the Lakers to 1-for-8 shooting from the field in the first 6 1/2 minutes of the second half, while the play of Arnwine and Jasmine Williams off the bench sparked Tusculum to a 17-2 run to take the lead. Arnwine hit a go-ahead three-pointer with 3:55 left in the quarter as part of her 10-point outburst, and Williams added seven points in the quarter as the Pioneers outscored the Lakers 27-11 in the quarter, scoring 16 points off nine Clayton State turnovers while going 4-for-6 from three-point range.
Sydney Wilson opened the fourth quarter with a three-pointer to give the Pioneers a 62-52 lead with 9:15 left, and Johnson scored on a jumper for Clayton State with 7:57 remaining. From there, both teams went cold from the field as the only point over the next five minutes came on a foul shot by the Lakers' Jhade Hayes with 5:09 left. Despite going more than seven minutes without a point, Tusculum's lead held at seven points until Johnson scored on a putback with 2:26 left to cut the Pioneer lead to 62-57.
Tusculum's drought was made worse by 13 turnovers in the fourth quarter, including eight consecutive possessions in the final four minutes. Meanwhile, the Lakers pulled within 62-59 on a layup by Teneria Wilson with 1:42 left. Monica Alexander had a chance to bring Clayton State within a point with 1:06 left, but missed two free throws as Tusculum remained ahead by three. However, another Tusculum turnover led to a fast-break layup by Wilson with 47 seconds left and a foul, but she missed the free throw as the Pioneers remained ahead 62-61. Clayton State got the ball back on another Pioneer turnover and Newby was fouled with 34.6 seconds left. but she could only hit the first of two attempts at the line to leave the score tied and set up the last-second heroics by Patterson.
Tusculum finished the game at 40.3 percent (25-for-62) from the field but a strong 9-for-20 from three-point range, including 5-for-8 in the second half. Clayton State ended the game at 38 percent (27-for-71) from the floor, but just 9-for-32 (28.1 percent) in the second half and 2-for-13 overall from three-point range. Foul shooting was a major difference in the game, as the Pioneers were a perfect 6-for-6 at the line while the Lakers made just six of their 16 attempts, including 3-for-10 in the second half.
Patterson was 3-for-6 from the field in the game and had missed her previous three attempts from three-point range before her game-winner. Williams also had seven points in 12 minutes off the bench for Tusculum, while Sutton was 2-for-3 from beyond the arc and had six points.
Foster finished the game with nine points, including both of the Lakers' three-pointers, but had 10 turnovers. Johnson shot 7-for-13 from the field and had three steals and a blocked shot in 34 minutes for Clayton State. Newby, who averaged a team-high 17.5 points per game in the Lakers' season-opening wins over Anderson and Wingate, played just 20 minutes and finished with one point on the free throw in the final minute.
Tusculum will play its home opener on Monday at 5:30 p.m. against Virginia State at Pioneer Arena in its only home game in November.