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Pioneers end regular-season with road loss at Wingate

Pioneers end regular-season with road loss at Wingate

WINGATE, N.C. --- Jakob Dawkins poured in 27 points as the Wingate University men's basketball team used a 14-0 run to knock off visiting Tusculum University, 90-77 Saturday afternoon at Cuddy Arena.

The Bulldogs (13-15, 9-13 South Atlantic Conference) end their season and avenge last month's 75-53 loss to the Pioneers and finish ninth in the league.  Despite the loss, the Pioneers (18-12, 13-9 SAC) claim its second fourth-place finish in SAC and will be the No. 4 seed in next week's Pilot/Flying J SAC Basketball Championship.  TU will host No. 5 seed Anderson University on Wednesday at 7:30 p.m. from Pioneer Arena.

Tusculum senior Dillon Smith tied a career-best with his 22 points where he finished four 3-pointers, extending his streak with a triple to 14 consecutive games.  Senior Tariq Jenkins added 14 points, while Brandon Mitchell tallied a dozen markers with seven rebounds.  Mitchell also established a new TU single-season record with his 58th blocked shot of the year, surpassing the previous best of 57 rejections by Chase Mounce in the 2014-15 campaign.

Dawkins finished the game going 8-of-14 from the floor including 7-of-12 from three-point territory and 4-of-4 at the foul line.  Francis Sio tallied 19 points with four treys and Frankie Johnson posted 15 points and a game-high 11 assists.

The Bulldogs finished the game making 14 three-pointers (on 34 attempts) and went 22-of-27 at the free throw line including 20-of-23 in the second half alone.  Wingate also finished the game with 23 assists on its 27 made field goals as WU shot 48.2 percent for the game.

Tusculum uses an early 6-0 run to take a 16-11 lead following a basket by Caleb Hodnett.  The Bulldogs responded with an 11-5 spurt to lead 22-21 after a Kendrick Tucker triple with 8:24 left in the period.

Brandon Mitchell canned a three-pointer to regain the advantage, but the Bulldogs went on a 15-6 run to move out to a 39-28 lead with 1;38 to go on the first half clock.  Smith drained a three-pointer and Cameron King had a dunk as TU trailed 39-33, but a Quantra Taylor tip-in at the buzzer sent the Bulldogs to the locker room with a 41-33 advantage.

Wingate opened the second half with a Miguel Priest triple but TU answered with an 11-0 run and tied the game at 44-44 on Smith's jumper with 14:49 remaining.

The Bulldogs answered with 14 unanswered points including two treys by Sio and a triple each from Johnson and Dawkins to take a 58-44 lead with 12:18 to go. The Pioneers cut the deficit to single digits thanks to a Smith three-pointer and a Jenkins' three-point play as TU trailed 58-50.

But a pair of 6-0 runs which included a Shaman Alston dunk as Wingate led 74-56 with 5:11 remaining in the game. Tusculum would get as close as 11 with 20 seconds, but it would not be enough to halt the Wingate victory.

Sophomore Trenton Gibson was held to eight points in the game, snapping his 11-game run of double-digit scoring performances. Gibson also posted six rebounds and dished out five assists.  Hodnett accounted for seven points, while Adrian Cohen and King each had six markers for the visitors.

Tusculum edged Wingate on the boards by a 39-38 margin and finished the game with 18 offensive boards, resulting in 25 second-chance points.

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