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Catawba rallies to 99-97 win at Tusculum

Catawba rallies to 99-97 win at Tusculum

GREENEVILLE, Tenn. --- Catawba's Malik Constantine scored the final five points of the game, including his go-ahead tip-in with 1:04 remaining to lead the Indians to a 99-97 come-from-behind win over Tusculum Saturday afternoon at Pioneer Arena.

Catawba (6-12, 3-10 South Atlantic Conference) overcame a 12-point deficit in the second half as Constantine scored 15 of his game-high 27 points in the final 17 minutes of the contest. The Catawba Indians gain a split in the season series while Tusculum (5-15, 3-10 SAC) suffers its fourth straight loss.  

Tusculum freshman Zailan Peeler finished with a season-best 23 points while junior Donovan Donaldson poured in 22 points with five assists and two blocked shots.  TC also got 17 points from junior Peyton Woods and 11 points from senior Ronnie Baylark.  Junior Zach Hartle tallied five points and a career-high 12 rebounds to go along with his four assists, two blocked shots and two steals.

Tusculum led 94-89 with 2:25 remaining in the game, but Catawba closed out the contest with a 10-3 run and got a Jerrin Morrison three-pointer to tie it and the go-ahead offensive rebound and tip-in with 64 seconds left to give the Indians the lead for the first time in the second half.

Constantine scored a layup with 32 seconds remaining to give the Indians a 98-95 lead.  TC's Ronnie Baylark made a layup with 22 seconds to bring TC to within one.  Constantine was fouled with 15 seconds left as he made the first free throw, but missed the second as TC freshman Dashaunte Smith came down with the rebound.

After a TC timeout with 8.7 seconds left, Tusculum got the ball to Donaldson who drove down the right side, but his layup with three seconds on the clock rolled off the back of the iron and was hauled in by Catawba's Jeremy McLaughlin to seal the victory for the visitors.

Catawba vaulted out to a 19-10 lead in the first half sparked by seven straight points from Constantine, including a three-point play and a fast-break dunk.

Peeler snapped the run with a three-pointer before Constantine recorded his ninth consecutive point with his jumper in the paint for a 21-13 Catawba lead with 12:58 left before halftime.

The Pioneers responded with a 12-3 run, including six points from Woods on a three-point play and three straight free throws after being fouled behind the arc.  Donaldson completed the run with a pair of free throws as TC led 25-24 with 10:44 on the scoreboard.

The lead exchanged hands a couple of times before TC made a push and got a four-play from Peeler as TC led 46-40.  The Pioneers upped their advantage to nine following a one-handed jam from freshman Elon Smallwood with 21 seconds left in the half.  Catawba's Jerrin Morrison converted a driving layup with six seconds left to make it a 58-51Tusculum lead at the intermission.

Tusculum started the second half by jumping out to a 64-52 lead thanks to baskets from Woods, Peeler and Donaldson.

With TC leading 66-54 with 17:20 remaining in the game, the Catawba Indians scored eight unanswered points to trim the Pioneer lead to 66-62 at the 15:14 mark.

TC sophomore Caleb Hodnett stopped the run with his three-pointer, but Catawba responded with seven points in a 43-second span including two free throws from Constantine, and a layup and a triple from Morrison to tie the game at 69-69 with 13:13 to go.

The teams would exchange baskets and free throws over the next three minutes as the score would be tied three more times including 78-78 at the 10:58 mark after a Morrison jumper.

TC scored four straight points on Woods' two free throws and a Dashaunte Smith layup as the Pioneers led 82-78 with nine minutes remaining.

Tusculum couldn't shake Catawba down the stretch as the Pioneers would lead 94-89 with setting the stage for Constantine's heroics.

Catawba finished the game shooting 57 percent from the floor including 18-of-30 (60%) in the second half.  Constantine went 9-of-12 from the field and 8-of-9 from the free throw line. He also finished with six rebounds and three assists.  Morrison added 25 points going 10-of-20 and 3-of-4 from the beyond the arc.  The Indians also got nine points each from DJ Johnson and McLaughlin.

The Pioneers shot 50.8 percent from the field including 61.3 percent in the opening period.  Tusculum shot 11-of-26 from three-point land and went 20-of-28 at the free throw stripe (71.4%).

Catawba won the rebound battle by a 41-35 margin and hauled in 14 offensive boards, resulting in 17 second-chance points.

In the last 44 meetings between Tusculum and Catawba, 30 have been decided by 10 points or less, including 22 by five points or fewer, including Saturday.

Tusculum will step out of conference play on Tuesday when the Pioneers travel to Winston-Salem State for a 7 p.m. contest against the Rams.

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