SALISBURY, N.C. --- Tusculum's Peyton Woods poured in 27 points to pace the Pioneers to an 87-73 South Atlantic Conference victory over Catawba Saturday afternoon at Goodman Gym.
The Pioneers (3-6, 1-2 SAC) record their first league victory of the season, while posting its third straight win away from Pioneer Arena. It was also TC's first win at Catawba since 2013, snapping a four-game road losing streak in Salisbury.
Woods went 10-of-19 from the floor with four 3-pointers and five rebounds. Donovan Donaldson added 19 points and a game-high five assists, while Caleb Hodnett matched a career-high with his 13 markers. Hodnett was perfect on the day as he went 4-of-4 from the floor with three 3-pointers, went 2-for-2 at the free throw line, dished out a career-best three assists and grabbed a team-high nine rebounds.
Catawba's Jameel Taylor led the Indians with 18 points and five steals off the bench. Malik Constantine added 14 points and 10 rebounds, while Jeremy McLaughlin finished with 13 points shooting 6-of-7 from the field. Jerrin Morrison, who entered the game as the SAC's top scorer (23 ppg), was limited to a dozen points on his 5-of-16 shooting.
The game started on a frantic pace with the lead exchanging hands five times in the first nine minutes of the contest.
With the score tied 21-21, Tusculum scored seven unanswered thanks to layups from Zailan Peeler and Dashaunte Smith and a trey from Hodnett as the Pioneers led 28-21 with 9:53 to go in the first half. The Catawba Indians (2-5, 0-3 SAC) cut the TC lead down to three before trailing 33-29 with seven minutes left before halftime.
Tusculum erupted for a 13-3 run over a 4:30 span to lead 46-32 following back-to-back treys from Woods and Donovan. But Catawba closed out final 1:36 with a 6-0 run sparked by Taylor who converted a three-point play and slammed down a dunk with 19 seconds left as the Indians trailed 46-38 at the intermission.
Catawba ended that run into the second half and cut the deficit to one point on two occasions in the opening five minutes of the period. With TC clinging to a 56-55 lead, the Pioneers went on a 10-0 spurt sparked by three-pointers from Hodnett and Woods, and a layup from senior Ronnie Baylark as TC led 66-55 with 10:28 left on the clock. During the run, TC went 5-for-8 from the field, while Catawba went cold missing nine straight shots and went without making a field goal for over six-and-a-half minutes.
Taylor made a three-pointer at the 8:18 mark to make it a 68-60 game. Hodnett made a pair of free throws to move the TC lead to double-digits again at 70-60 with seven minutes left.
The Catawba Indians trimmed the deficit to seven points on three occasions down the stretch, including 75-68 with 4:25 remaining. The Pioneers closed out the victory with a 12-1 run, including three key baskets by Donaldson to secure TC head coach Nick Pasqua his first South Atlantic Conference win.
Tusculum's Malik Tyree contributed nine points, four rebounds, two assists and two steals in his second start of the season, while Peeler posted a solid stat line with his eight points, eight rebounds and four assists.
The Pioneers finished the game shooting 50 percent, including 15-of-27 from the floor in the second half (55.6%). TC buried 11 three-pointers, including Woods four and three apiece from Donaldson and Hodnett.
Catawba out-rebounded the Pioneers by a 46-40 margin, including 21-10 on the offensive boards. But the Indians were held to 36.2 percent shooting in the game, including 11-of-38 in the second half (28.9%). The Indians went 20-of-30 (66.7%) at the free throw line, while TC shot 10-of-14 from the charity stripe for 71.4 percent.
Tusculum returns home this Wednesday night for an 8 p.m. conference clash against Coker at Pioneer Arena.