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Long, Wilson pace Pioneers to 93-62 rout of Clayton State

Mia Long matched her TU career high with 23 points against Clayton State (photo by Chuck Williams)
Mia Long matched her TU career high with 23 points against Clayton State (photo by Chuck Williams)

GREENEVILLE, Tenn. --- Mia Long scored a game-high 23 points and added eight assists, six steals and five rebounds as Tusculum University routed Clayton State University 93-62 in non-conference women's basketball action Tuesday night at Pioneer Arena.

Sydney Wilson, playing in her first game in nearly a year, added six three-pointers and scored 22 points as the Pioneers (3-0) placed four players in double figures in building a 23-point halftime lead. Clayton State (1-2) cut the deficit to 11 in the third quarter, but the Pioneers outscored the Lakers 40-20 over the final 14 minutes to walk away with the victory.

Long, who tied her Tusculum career high of 23 points set three previous times, shot 6-for-10 from the field and 11-for-15 from the foul line for the Pioneers, who shot 44.9 percent (31-for-69) from the field in the game including a sizzling 54.8 percent (17-for-31) in the second half. Wilson's six three-pointers matched her career high set twice previously as Tusculum sank 11 three-pointers as a team while holding Clayton State to 5-for-20 from beyond the arc.

Taneria Wilson led Clayton State with 13 points and seven rebounds, while Jhade Hayes had 13 points and six rebounds for the Lakers, who shot 35.1 percent (20-for-57) from the field as a team and turned the ball over 25 times which led to 28 points for the Pioneers. Tusculum also outrebounded Clayton State by a 46-34 margin, with both teams scoring over 20 second-chance points in the contest.

Kasey Johnson also reached double figures for Tusculum with 12 points and a game-high nine rebounds, and Maddie Sutton added 10 points and seven board for the Pioneers. Off the bench, Brianna Dixon hit all three of her shots and scored seven points to go along with four rebounds and three assists in 27 minutes, and Mya Belton contributed seven points in eight minutes of action.

Johnson hit a three-pointer on the game's opening possession, and the Pioneers stretched their lead to 12-4 as Long and Johnson had four points apiece in the first 5 1/2 minutes for Tusculum. The Pioneers closed the quarter with a 12-2 run to take a 24-8 lead after one quarter, behind 10 points from Long and six each from Sutton and Johnson. Clayton State turned the ball over 11 times in the opening quarter, leading to 10 points for the Pioneers in the period.

The Tusculum lead swelled to 34-13 following a basket by Johnson with 6:25 to go in the half, and three-pointers from Wilson and Miller were part of an 8-0 run that helped the Pioneers to a 47-24 lead at intermission. Long led all players with 13 points in the first half and Sutton added 10 for the Pioneers, while Hayes, Wilson and Timi'a Swanson paced the Lakers with five points apiece. Tusculum shot 36.8 percent (14-for-38) from the field in the opening half while Clayton State had 16 turnovers and shot 33.3 percent (9-for-27) as a team.

A steal and layup by Long in the opening seconds of the third quarter gave Tusculum its largest lead to that point at 50-24, but the Pioneers would come up empty on seven of its next eight possession as the Lakers used an 18-3 run to cut the Tusculum lead to 53-42 on two free throws by Hayes with 3:58 left in the third quarter. On the next trip up the court, Long caused her defender to fall off-balance to the floor as she drove in for a layup, then hit Wilson for a three-pointer on the next trip and finished off another layup off a steal as Tusculum scored seven points in 40 seconds to send Pioneer Arena into a frenzy.

Wilson and Long combined for 18 of Tusculum's 22 points in the period as the Pioneers would go up 69-51 after three quarters. Tusculum outscored Clayton State 24-11 in the fourth quarter as Wilson, Dixon, Belton and Kirsten Click all hit three-pointers in the quarter for the Pioneers, who led by as many as 35 points in the final three minutes.

Kelsie Towns was also in double figures for Clayton State with 11 points, while Swanson had eight points and three rebounds off the bench for the Lakers. Tusculum's bench outscored Clayton State's reserves by a 26-23 margin, and the Pioneers had a 32-24 edge in points in the paint. Both teams shot well from the foul line, with Tusculum hitting 20-for-27 (74.1 percent) and Clayton State 70.8 percent (17-for-24) at the stripe.

Tusculum will head back on the road for two more games against Peach Belt Conference schools as part of the UNG Nighthawk Classic. The Pioneers will play Georgia College on Friday at 3:30 p.m. and face defending Southeast Region champion and tournament host North Georgia on Saturday at 3:30 p.m. in Dahlonega, Georgia.

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