DAHLONEGA, Ga. --- Tusculum University used a 21-2 second-quarter run and led wire-to-wire in a 76-52 victory over Georgia College in the UNG Nighthawk Women's Basketball Classic at the University of North Georgia on Friday afternoon.
Maddie Sutton scored a career-high 16 points and Tusculum received 46 points from its bench to improve to 4-0 for the third consecutive season. Brianna Dixon came off the bench to add 13 points as the Pioneers shot 47.6 percent (30-for-63) from the field and went 11-for-25 (44.0 percent) from three-point range in the game.
The Bobcats (0-3) did not place a player in double figures, as Harper Vick was the top scorer with nine points. Georgia College shot 36.6 percent (15-for-41) from the floor in the game and hit just 3-for-15 from three-point range, but the Bobcats went 19-for-30 from the foul line while the Pioneers made all five of their free-throw attempts.
Jasmine Williams, Aliyah Miller and Elle Hutchinson each scored eight points off the bench for the Pioneers, who led by as many as 35 points in the third quarter. Seven different Pioneers made at least one three-pointer in the game as Tusculum shot over 50 percent from the field into the fourth quarter.
The Pioneers jumped to an early 7-2 lead on baskets by Mia Long and Sutton and a three-pointer from Jalia Arnwine. The Tusculum bench then took over, scoring 11 of the Pioneers' final 15 points of the opening quarter which included two three-pointers by Hutchinson and a three by Dixon which gave the Pioneers a 24-12 lead after one period.
Sutton scored the first four points for the Pioneers in the second quarter, followed by another three-pointer from Dixon which extended the Tusculum lead to 31-14 with 6:05 left in the first half. After a basket by the Bobcats' La'Shandria Mallard, the Pioneers ran off 14 straight points over a span of just over four minutes. Mya Belton and Marta Rodrigues canned three-pointers for the Pioneers as the bench scored all 14 points during the surge, which left the Pioneers ahead 45-16 with 2:38 left in the half.
Tusculum led 45-21 at halftime as Dixon and Sutton scored 10 points apiece for the Pioneers, with Dixon hitting all four of her shot attempts and Sutton pulling three rebounds. Tusculum's bench outscored the Georgia College bench 28-0 in the opening half, and the Pioneers scored 18 points off 12 turnovers by the Bobcats. The Pioneers shot 51.5 percent (17-for-33) from the field in the half including 7-for-13 from three-point range, while the Bobcats were just 34.8 percent (8-for-23) from the floor as a team.
In the third quarter, the Pioneers opened with a 9-2 run which included back-to-back layups by Long and a three-pointer from Sydney Wilson which gave Tusculum a 54-23 lead with 4:07 left in the quarter. The Bobcats shot just 1-for-8 from the field in the period and were held without a field goal for nearly 9 1/2 minutes into the fourth quarter.
Long, who led Division II in steals per game last season with an average of 3.96 per contest, was hindered by first-half foul trouble and finished without a steal in nine minutes of playing time. Long failed to record a steal for just the fourth time in 58 career games at Tusculum, and ended her streak of 30 straight games with a steal dating to the start of last season.
In addition to her eight points on 4-for-7 shooting, Miller added five rebounds and shared the team high in assists with Dixon with three in 20 minutes off the bench. Dixon finished 3-for-4 from beyond the arch and Hutchinson went 2-for-3 from long range for the Pioneers. Williams was 3-for-4 from the field and grabbed four rebounds in 19 minutes after being held without a point in the Pioneers' first three games.
Georgia College was outrebounded 36-29 by Tusculum, with three players sharing the team lead with three boards apiece. Sarah Plemons made both of her three-point attempts and finished with six points for the Bobcats, joining three other players who also scored six in the game.
The Pioneers will attempt to improve to 5-0 for the first time since 2011-12 when they face the host Nighthawks on Saturday at 3:30 p.m. North Georgia, the two-time defending Peach Belt Conference champions and reigning Southeast Region champs, is ranked 15th by D2SIDA and 23rd by the WBCA in their respective preseason polls.