Big first half powers Pioneers past King, 96-60

Big first half powers Pioneers past King, 96-60

GREENEVILLE, Tenn. --- The Tusculum women's basketball team built a 34-point halftime lead and rolled to a 96-60 win over King in the South Atlantic Conference/Conference Carolinas Challenge at Pioneer Arena Saturday night.

Lovely Locklear paced the Pioneers (2-0) with a career-high 25 points and seven assists and Yolizma Cupidan added 20 points as the Pioneers went on a 16-2 run in the opening four minutes and led 63-29 at the half over the Tornado (1-1).

Sydney Wilson hit four three-pointers and scored 16 points off the bench and Martoria Patton added 10 points and seven rebounds for Tusculum, which hit 14 threes as a team and scored 36 points off 33 King turnovers. Mia Long nearly reached double figures with nine points and three assists for the Pioneers, who had 19 steals as a team.

Che' Davis led the Tornado with 18 points and 10 rebounds while Arnelle Collins added 16 points as King shot 37.7 percent (23-for-61) from the field in the game but trailed by as many as 38 points in the third quarter.

King scored on the opening possession of the game on a jumper off the tip by Kristen Cupples, but Tusculum came roaring back with 16 unanswered points. Tusculum made six of its first seven shots from the field while King went 0-for-4 with four turnovers after the opening basket.

Wilson hit three consecutive three-pointers to extend the Pioneer lead to 29-9 with 3:09 left in the first half, as the Tusculum defense forced 10 turnovers in the opening period. Tusculum led 35-13 at the end of the first quarter as Wilson led all players with 11 points and Tusculum shot 57.1 percent (12-for-21) from the field, while scoring 19 points off King turnovers.

Tusculum's lead grew to 49-21 on a layup by Callie Patterson with 4:21 left in the first half, then Locklear scored seven points in the final minute including a three-pointer just before the buzzer to give the Pioneers a 63-29 lead at the half. Wilson had a game-high 16 points in the opening half for the Pioneers, while Locklear scored 14 and Patton added 10.

The Pioneers shot 52.3 percent (23-for-44) from the field in the half and hit on 8-for-18 from three-point range, while King shot 33.3 percent (10-for-30) and committed 19 turnovers that the Pioneers converted into 30 points. Tusculum also had 25 fast-break points in the first half and outscored the Tornado 30-14 in the paint.

Locklear continued her scoring touch in the third quarter, hitting on 3-for-5 from three-point and scoring 11 points as the Pioneer lead grew to 80-42 with just under two minutes left in the quarter. The Pioneers led 82-46 after the third quarter as King's shooting improved to 46.7 percent in the period (7-for-15) while Tusculum had just four points off Tornado turnovers.

King was able to trim the deficit to 82-57 through a 13-0 run, but Cupidan scored five points in a minute and eight in the final quarter as the Pioneers closed the game on a 9-1 run over the final 4 1/2 minutes.

Maddie Sutton came off the bench for the Pioneers and grabbed a team-high 10 rebounds to go along with four steals in 29 minutes of playing time. Patterson filled the scoresheet with five points, six rebounds and five assists with no turnovers in 22 minutes of action, and Kasey Johnson chipped in with eight points, four rebounds and a career high-tying five assists.

Kori West led all players with 11 rebounds in just 12 minutes of playing time for King, but Tusculum finished the game with a slim 45-44 advantage on the boards. The Pioneers also had a 29-16 edge in fast-break points and scored 12 second-chance points to nine by the Tornado.

The Pioneers will return home on Thursday evening to host Belmont Abbey at 6 p.m. in a non-conference game at Pioneer Arena.