GREENEVILLE, Tenn. --- Marta Rodrigues scored a game-high 18 points and had 11 of Tusculum University's school and conference-record 36 steals as the Pioneers routed Bluefield State College 94-36 in non-conference women's basketball action Wednesday evening at Pioneer Arena.
Rodrigues went 4-for-7 from three-point range and added seven assists and four rebounds in 26 minutes off the bench for the Pioneers (7-2), who forced the Big Blues into 47 turnovers which Tusculum converted into 53 points. Six players scored in double figures for the Pioneers, while the defense held Bluefield State to 22.2 percent (10-for-45) from the field in the game.
The 11 steals for Rodrigues are the most in a game by a Division II player this season and are the second-most in a single game by a Pioneer, trailing only the 15 steals collected by Amy Bible against Milligan on Jan. 28, 1995. Her 11 steals are the most for Tusculum since joining Division II in 1999, and are tied for the third-most in a single game in SAC history. The 11 steals by Rodrigues are the most for a SAC player since the 1996-97 season.
The 36 steals for Tusculum broke the school and conference single-game record of 35 steals, set by the Pioneers against Virginia Intermont on Dec. 30, 2009. The Pioneers' 36 steals are also the most in Division II this season and the fifth-most in a single game in Division II history. Tusculum's 47 forced turnovers are the second-most in a game in school history, behind the 51 committed by Bluefield State in last year's 78-41 road win for the Pioneers on Nov. 25, 2017.
Callie Patterson added 17 points, four rebounds, four assists and five steals for the Pioneers, with Yolizma Cupidan adding 13 points, four rebounds and four steals. Jalia Arnwine matched her season high with 12 points and had four steals, Mia Long contributed 10 points and seven steals in 16 minutes of playing time and Mya Belton notched a career-best 10 points off the bench for the Pioneers, who connected on 11 three-pointers and had 24 assists on 35 made field goals.
Jasmine Williams grabbed a career-high 14 rebounds and scored four points for the Pioneers, who outrebounded the Big Blues by a 40-36 margin and had 11 second-chance points off 11 offensive rebounds. Kendrea Duke finished with five points and Lovely Locklear posted five points, five rebounds and four assists as all nine players who suited up for Tusculum had at least one field goal in the game.
Lyndsay Hatfield was the only player to score in double figures for Bluefield State (5-9) with 14 points and seven rebounds, including 8-for-8 at the foul line. The Big Blues shot 2-for-16 from three-point range and were outscored 41-11 on fast-break points and 40-16 on points in the paint.
A basket by Arnwine on the opening possession was followed by consecutive three-pointers by Patterson which gave the Pioneers a quick 8-0 lead after 90 seconds of play. Tusculum would stretch its lead to 16-2 after 4 1/2 minutes, then closed the first quarter on an 11-0 run to take a 26-5 lead behind 11 points from Patterson in the opening period.
A three-pointer by Rodrigues stretched the Pioneer lead to 34-8 with 8:17 left in the first half, but Tusculum would go scoreless for the next 2 1/2 minutes by missing eight straight shots and turning the ball over four times. Bluefield State would pull within 39-17 on a layup by Alexus Tucker with 3:05 left in the half, but it would be the last field goal for the Big Blues for more than 11 minutes of game time. Tusculum closed the first half on a 9-1 run to take a 48-18 lead into halftime.
The Pioneers shot 17-for-38 (44.7 percent) from the field in the first half and hit seven three-pointers in 18 attempts. Patterson led Tusculum with 11 points while Rodrigues added nine and Cupidan, Long and Arnwine added six each. Hatfield paced the Big Blues with six points and six rebounds in the half as Bluefield State shot 20 percent (4-for-20) from the field and turned the ball over 25 times.
The third quarter saw the Pioneers open with a 16-1 run to build a 64-19 lead on a layup by Long with 4:57 left in the quarter. Tusculum ran into foul trouble late in the quarter, allowing Bluefield State to pick up some points at the free-throw line before Hatfield ended the Big Blue field-goal drought on a layup with 1:48 left in the period. The Tusculum lead would stand at 68-26 entering the fourth quarter.
Tusculum continued to put pressure on Bluefield State in the fourth quarter, forcing 12 turnovers which led to 11 steals for the Pioneers. Rodrigues had five steals in the fourth quarter alone, while Cupidan came up with the record-setting theft on defense with 45 seconds to play. Rodrigues also scored nine points in the quarter as the Pioneers shot 10-for-19 from the field as a team and built the lead to as large as 60 points in the closing seconds.
The Pioneers finished the game shooting 13-for-20 (65 percent) from the foul line while the Big Blues shot 14-for-18 (77.8 percent) at the stripe. Lauryn Hatfield was held scoreless in 19 minutes off the bench for Bluefield State, but she grabbed seven rebounds and collected four steals.
Rodrigues shot 4-for-7 from beyond the arc after hitting on just three of her 14 attempts over Tusculum's first eight games. Patterson added three three-pointers for the Pioneers, with Arnwine and Belton each hitting a pair. Belton was also 4-for-4 at the free-throw line and had three steals in a season-high 21 minutes of action.
Tusculum will have a quick turnaround as the Pioneers host Livingstone in a non-conference game Thursday at 4 p.m. at Pioneer Arena. Tusculum has won both previous meetings with the Blue Bears, with the last coming just over 10 years ago by a 92-60 score on Dec. 13, 2008.