GREENEVILLE, Tenn. --- Catawba College shot 62 percent from the field in the second half and forced Tusculum University into a season-high 24 turnovers as the Indians defeated the Pioneers 78-71 in South Atlantic Conference women's basketball action Saturday afternoon at Pioneer Arena.
Shemya Stanbeck came off the bench to score a team-high 18 points for the Indians (6-0, 2-0 SAC), who finished the game at 49.2 percent (30-for-61) from the field including nine three-pointers. Catawba, ranked eighth in the Southeast Region in this week's D2SIDA poll, struggled at the foul line, shooting just 9-for-22 (40.9 percent) for the game and 4-for-10 in the fourth quarter.
Mia Long led the Pioneers (6-2, 1-1 SAC) with a game-high 21 points along with four rebounds, four assists and five steals. Kasey Johnson became the 17th player in program history to surpass 1,000 career points, and finished the game with 12 points and a game-high 13 rebounds, one shy of her career high. Sydney Wilson added 16 points and four steals for the Pioneers, who shot 42.9 percent (21-for-49) from the field and outrebounded the Indians by a 43-34 margin. Tusculum entered the week ranked third in the Southeast Region by D2SIDA and was receiving votes in both the D2SIDA and WBCA national Division II polls.
Tusculum led briefly at the start of the third quarter after the teams finished the first half in a 32-32 tie, but a 13-2 run by Catawba gave the Indians their largest lead of the day at 51-40 midway through the third quarter. Tusculum trimmed the deficit to two points late in the third and to four points late in the fourth, but the Catawba defense held Tusculum without a field goal for the final four minutes.
Johnson, who entered the game nine points shy of 1,000 for her career, reached the milestone by hitting a pair of free throws with 3:17 left in the third quarter. She is the first Pioneer to hit 1,000 points since Shynese Whitener against Mars Hill on Jan. 13, 2016. Johnson fell one rebound short of her career high of 14 set against Lenoir-Rhyne on Jan. 6, 2018, with 10 of her 13 boards on the defensive glass.
Tashia DeShazo had 16 points and five rebounds for Catawba, with Madison Hallman also reaching double figures with 11 points before fouling out in the fourth quarter. The teams combined for 54 fouls in the game, resulting in a total of four players fouling out.
Tusculum failed to score first for the first time in eight games as Lyrik Thorne hit a three-pointer on the opening possession of Catawba. A three-pointer by Hallman extended the Indians' lead to 6-0 before Long got the Pioneers on the board with 7:50 left in the opening quarter. Long was 4-for-4 from the field and had eight points in the first quarter, and Tusculum closed the deficit to 20-19 at the end of the quarter on a basket by Wilson and a three-pointer by Jalia Arnwine in the closing seconds.
A free throw by Arnwine tied the game at 23-23 with six minutes left in the second quarter, but a basket by DeShazo put the Indians back ahead 28-26 with 4:35 to play. Catawba would lead by as many as three points before Tusculum came back to tie the game at 32-32 on a foul shot by Mya Belton with 7.4 seconds left.
The Pioneers shot 11-for-26 (42.3 percent) from the field in the first half, with Long going 5-for-6 from the field and scoring a game-high 12 points. Hallman had a team-high 11 points for the Indians, who hit 12-for-32 (37.5 percent) from the floor in the half. Each team was 5-for-14 from three-point range in the opening half, with Tusculum going 5-for-11 at the foul line and Catawba 3-for-6.
Two free throws from Wilson gave the Pioneers their first and largest lead of the game at 34-32 with 24 seconds gone in the second half. After a three-pointer from DeShazo briefly gave the Indians the lead back at 35-34, Long answered with a layup for Tusculum's last lead of the day at 36-35 with 8:35 left in the third quarter. The game was tied 38-38 with seven minutes left in the period when the Indians went on a 13-2 run, which included four points from Stanbeck and a three-pointer from Jada Davis which gave Catawba a 51-40 lead with 4:49 left in the quarter.
Tusculum came right back with nine straight points, including the 1,000th of Johnson's career and five straight points from Wilson, to pull within 51-49 with 1:54 left in the third quarter. However, DeShazo responded with a three-pointer and Catawba closed the period holding a 59-52 lead.
The Catawba lead would grow to as many as eight points three different times in the fourth quarter, including a 69-61 advantage following a layup from Stanbeck with 6:17 to go. Three-pointers from Jasmine Williams and from Wilson brought the Pioneers within 71-67 with 4:05 left, but Tusculum went 0-for-5 from the field and 4-for-8 from the foul line the rest of the way. Catawba was just 3-for-6 at the stripe in the final minute, but the Indians held the Pioneers scoreless for the final 39.6 seconds.
Arnwine finished with eight points and three rebounds before fouling out in the final minute for the Pioneers, while Williams hit a pair of three-pointers and had a team-high six points off the bench. Catawba's bench, powered by Stanbeck's 18 points and nine from Keyotta Garris, outscored the Tusculum reserves by a 37-10 margin. Mercedes Wampler, who did not play in the first half for Catawba, played all 20 minutes in the second half and contributed four points, five rebounds and four steals.
The Pioneers will play their first conference road game of the season on Saturday, December 7 with a trip to Newberry. The Pioneers swept the Wolves last season, including a road win that snapped a 10-game losing streak by Tusculum at Eleazer Arena.