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Virginia State pulls away in second half to defeat Pioneers

Virginia State pulls away in second half to defeat Pioneers

ETTRICK, Va. --- Chrisanna Green scored 20 of her game-high 22 points in the second half and added 13 rebounds as Virginia State pulled away for a 95-71 win over Tusculum Wednesday in non-conference women's basketball action.

Five players finished in double figures for the Trojans (4-0), who shot 65.6 percent from the field in the second half and 54.7 percent (35-for-64) for the game. Keyana Brown added 19 points, four rebounds and four assists off the bench while Alexis Smith had 15 points and eight assists for the Trojans.

Kasey Johnson paced the Pioneers (4-1) with 15 points and Yolizma Cupidan and Martoria Patton added 11 points apiece, but Tusculum shot 41.5 percent (27-for-65) from the field as a team and connected on just 5-for-24 from three-point range in the game.

Tusculum forced turnovers on each of Virginia State's first four possession and took a 5-0 lead thanks to back-to-back layups from Johnson. The Trojans responded quickly with seven consecutive points, taking a 7-5 lead on a putback by Dionna Marcus with 6:40 left in the quarter.

Tusculum regained the lead at 10-8 on a three-pointer by Callie Patterson with 4:32 left in the quarter, only to see Virginia State go on an 8-0 run to take an 18-11 lead on a layup by Brown with 31 seconds left in the quarter. Tusculum trailed 18-14 after the first quarter following a three-point play from Maddie Sutton with 13 seconds left in the period.

The Trojans went ahead 24-16 on a foul shot by Imani Broadnax with 7:46 to go in the first half, but a three-pointer from the Pioneers' Sydney Wilson trimmed the Virginia State advantage to 29-25 with 2:43 left in the second quarter. Mia Fitts nailed a three-pointer to push the Trojans back up by nine at 34-25 with 1:48 left in the half, but a basket from Cupidan and a three-pointer from Johnson left the Pioneers down by 38-31 at intermission.

Johnson shot 5-for-6 from the field and led all players with 12 points in the first half, while Sutton had five points off the bench and Patterson chipped in with three points and four assists. Tusculum shot 11-for-30 (36.7 percent) from the field in the first half, but turned the ball over 14 times which led to 15 points from Virginia State.

Brown was the leading scorer for the Trojans in the first half with 11 points on 5-for-6 shooting, while Green had a game-high eight rebounds in the first half. Four players had six points apiece for Virginia State, which shot 14-for-32 from the field (43.8 percent) and outrebounded Tusculum 23-17 in the opening half.

The Virginia State lead hit double figures for the first time at 43-33 following a three-pointer from Fitts with 8:01 left in the third quarter. However, Tusculum went on a 10-2 run to pull within 45-43 on a layup by Mia Long with 4:32 left in the quarter. After a basket from the Trojans' Smith, Johnson drilled a three-pointer to bring the Pioneers within a point at 47-46 with 4:03 to go in the period.

Tusculum trailed 52-50 after a layup by Wilson with 2:29 left in the period, but Virginia State closed the quarter on an 11-2 run to build a 63-52 lead heading to the final period. 

A layup by Cupidan on the Pioneers' first possession of the fourth quarter cut the Trojan lead to 63-54, but the Pioneers would get no closer as Smith and Fitts hit back-to-back three-pointers to extend the Trojan lead to 78-62 with 5:40 to go. Green scored 11 points in the quarter for Virginia State, which shot 10-for-15 from the field and 9-for-15 from the foul line in outscoring the Pioneers 32-19 in the final quarter.

Wilson and Sutton each scored nine points off the bench for the Pioneers, while Patterson had three points and seven assists. Tusculum was outrebounded 38-29 by Virginia State and committed 25 turnovers while forcing the Trojans into 24 miscues.

Marcus and Fitts gave the Trojans five players in double figures, as Marcus finished with 14 points and Fitts added 13 points, five rebounds and five assists. Endia McKinney added eight points, six rebounds and three steals for the Trojans, who shot 18-for-30 (60 percent) from the foul line and outscored the Pioneers 50-44 in the paint.

Tusculum will return to the road Saturday at Bluefield State for a 2 p.m. non-conference game, which will be the Pioneers' final non-conference game of the season.

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