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Pioneers defeat Coker 88-77 for seventh straight home win

Pioneers defeat Coker 88-77 for seventh straight home win

GREENEVILLE, Tenn. --- Five players reached double figures for Tusculum as the Pioneers defeated Coker 88-77 in South Atlantic Conference women's basketball action Wednesday night at Pioneer Arena.

Mia Long scored a game-high 18 points, Yolizma Cupidan had 15 points, six assists and five rebounds and Kasey Johnson added 14 points and nine boards for the Pioneers (8-2, 3-1 SAC), who closed the first half with a 17-2 run en route to winning their seventh straight home game without a loss.

Hayley Kropp paced the Cobras (3-6, 0-3 SAC) with 17 points and Iresha Cooper had a double-double with 10 points and 11 rebounds to go with five steals, but Coker shot 38 percent from the field as a team and committed 20 turnovers which led to 24 Tusculum points.

Maddie Sutton earned her first double-double of the season for the Pioneers with a season-high 11 points while matching her season best with 13 rebounds. As a team, Tusculum outrebounded Coker 51-44 as Martoria Patton also reached double figures with 10 rebounds.

Sydney Wilson was the fifth Pioneer to score in double figures, registering 12 points in 21 minutes in her first start of the season. Wilson was 7-for-8 from the foul line for the Pioneers, who went 25-for-36 from the stripe in the game. Tusculum made four free throws in the final minute after Coker trimmed an 18-point Pioneer lead to seven in the closing minutes.

Tusculum jumped to an early 7-2 lead, but Coker was able to hold the Pioneers without a field goal for a span of 4 1/2 minutes in cutting the deficit to 13-12 on a layup by Sydney Shull with 4:54 left in the first quarter. A layup by Long gave Tusculum a 19-14 lead with 2:44 to play in the quarter, but Coker answered with eight straight points to go ahead 22-19 following two free throws by Caitland Considine with 54 seconds remaining in the period. The Pioneers regained the lead as Jalia Arnwine sank a three-pointer and Sutton beat the buzzer with a long jumper to give Tusculum a 24-22 advantage after one quarter.

Two foul shots from Johnson gave Tusculum a 26-24 lead with 8:19 to go in the second quarter, but Coker gained and held the lead for the next several minutes. The Cobras went ahead 36-31 on a three-pointer by Kropp with 5:39 left in the first half, but Coker finished the half by going 1-for-6 from the floor with seven turnovers as Tusculum rallied behind Long, who made back-to-back layups to give Tusculum a 40-36 lead with 3:10 to go in the half. Wilson went 5-for-6 at the foul line in the final 90 seconds and Cupidan made a basket in the final 10 seconds to give the Pioneers a 48-38 lead at intermission.

Long was the only player to reach double figures in the first half, by going 7-for-11 from the field and 2-for-3 at the foul line for 16 points. Sutton added seven points and five rebounds for the Pioneers, while Johnson had six points and six boards and Cupidan added six points as well. Tusculum went 14-for-18 from the stripe in the first half and shot an even 50 percent (16-for-32) from the field.

Hannah Stull led Coker with seven points in the first half, while Cooper had six points and four steals despite playing just nine minutes after picking up three personal fouls. Coker was 14-for-31 from the field (45.2 percent) in the first half and turned the ball over 14 times as a team, while being outrebounded by Tusculum 22-17.

The Tusculum lead grew to 63-45 as Lovely Locklear capped an 8-2 Pioneer run with a three-pointer with 4:10 to go in the third quarter. Cupidan made a three-pointer and a layup on consecutive possessions later in the frame as the Pioneers carried a 72-57 advantage into the fourth quarter.

The Pioneers led 77-60 following a three-pointer from Johnson with 8:22 left, but Coker went on a 14-4 run over the next five minutes to pull within 81-74 on a three-pointer from Kropp with 3:35 left. However, the Cobras would shoot just 1-for-8 from the field the rest of the way as the Pioneers were able to stretch the lead out at the foul line in the final minute.

Johnson shot 4-for-5 from the field for the Pioneers, including 2-for-2 from three-point range, and went 4-for-5 at the foul line to reach double figures for the eighth time in 10 games this season. Cupidan's six assists matched her season high set against North Greenville on Nov. 17, while Sutton's 13 boards equaled her season best set in the season opener against Converse on Nov. 10.

All nine Pioneers who saw action against the Cobras scored, with six different players hitting at least one three-pointer and seven of the nine registering at least one steal, including Callie Patterson who also finished with six points in 11 minutes off the bench. Overall, Tusculum finished the game at 41.2 percent (28-for-68) from the field and 7-for-21 from three-point range.

Coker had an overwhelming 26-4 edge in fast break points over Tusculum, and had a 44-34 edge in points in the paint. The Cobras scored just 12 points off 19 Pioneer turnovers, and allowed Tusculum to score 22 second-chance points through collecting 15 offensive rebounds.

Shay Jackson reached double figures for Coker, finishing with 12 points and seven rebounds in 22 minutes off the bench. Stull had nine points and five rebounds for the Cobras, while Considine battled foul trouble and finished with eight points and three rebounds in 19 minutes of action.

Tusculum will play its next four games on the road until returning to Pioneer Arena to face nationally-ranked Carson-Newman on Wednesday, Jan. 10. The Pioneers will play their next game at Wingate on Saturday at 2 p.m. in their final conference contest of the 2017 portion of their season schedule.

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