WILSON, N.C. --- The Tusculum University men's basketball team rallied from a 13-point second half deficit and closed the game with a 20-3 run as the Pioneers edged Barton College 91-87 Wednesday night at Wilson Gymnasium.
The Pioneers (4-6) snap a three-game losing streak and record their first-ever win over the Bulldogs (9-4) in four meetings.
Tusculum junior Tariq Jenkins scored 17 points with 13 of those in the second half including his game-clinching three-point play with 15.7 seconds left as the Pioneers overcame an 84-71 hole with 7:19 remaining.
TU responded with 15 unanswered points over a span of 5:07 capped off by a game-tying three-pointer by Jenkins with 3:15 on the clock (84-84) and a go ahead dunk from Cam King with 2:12 remaining as the Pioneers led 86-84.
Barton's Michael Boykin made one of two free throws to trim the deficit to 86-85 with 1:49 to go. Tusculum turned the ball over on a shot clock violation with 1:13 on the scoreboard. BC took advantage and Blake Burdack connected on a go-ahead lay-up with 1:01 to go and an 87-86 lead for the Bulldogs.
The Pioneers went down the floor and senior Donovan Donaldson scored the eventual game-winning lay-up with 43.7 seconds in regulation and an 88-87 TU advantage. Donaldson led the Pioneers with 18 points including five 3-pointers while also dishing out six assists with zero turnovers.
Barton got off a pair of shots on its next possession but King came up with the rebound and Donaldson passed the ball to Jenkins who drove in to score the lay-up while being fouled on the play with 15.7 seconds left. He made the free throw to make it a two-possession game (91-87).
The Bulldogs' got off a three-point try, but rookie Trenton Gibson came up with the rebound to clinch the win.
Barton opened the game scoring the first eight points of the contest before Tusculum answered with seven in a row as the game went back and forth. The lead exchanged hands five times in the opening 20 minutes including three times in the final 49 seconds before intermission.
BC's Jake Kakar buried a three-pointer with 12 seconds left in the half for a 44-42 Barton lead. But Donaldson connected on a triple at the buzzer for his third three-pointer in a 1:14 span as TU took a 45-44 lead into the locker room.
Barton opened the second half with a 7-2 run to take a 51-47 lead at the 18:22 mark. Tusculum answered with 7-3 spurt capped off by a Dillon Smith trey as the Pioneers tied the game at 54-54 with 17:05 to go.
The Bulldogs opened up a 69-60 advantage thanks to a 15-6 run sparked by three triples including two from Kakar who would finish the contest with a game-high 29 points. TU cut the Barton lead to six (73-67) after a Jenkins' three-pointer with 10:26 remaining.
But Barton would take its largest lead of the night at 84-71 as the Bulldogs went on a 9-4 run which was capped off by Kakar's eighth 3-pointer of the game.
Tusculum finished the game shooting 56.5 percent including a sizzling 18-of-30 in the second half (60%) and went 6-of-9 (67%) from beyond the arc in the final 20 minutes. TU would finish the night with a season-best 13 triples and shot 56.5 percent (13-of-23) from downtown.
Barton shot a respectable 48.5 percent from the field and went 15-of-32 from beyond the three-point line (47%). BC finished the contest with 25 assists on its 32 made field goals while committing only five turnovers. TU was also efficient offensively with a season-high 18 assists with just six miscues.
The Pioneers out-rebounded the Bulldogs by a 35-31 margin led by King's nine rebounds while he also finished with six points.
Four Bulldogs posted double digits including Kakar (29), Boykin (17), Zach Grant (11) and Blake Burdack (10).
Tusculum's 91 points were a season-high while the 13-point deficit is tied for the fifth largest comeback win in the NCAA Division II era of the program (1998-present).
Tusculum closes out the pre-Christmas portion of its schedule and returns to action on Dec. 29 when they host Belmont Abbey for a 3 p.m. contest at Pioneer Arena.