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Pioneers shut down by Anderson defense in 56-47 loss to No. 19 Trojans

Pioneers shut down by Anderson defense in 56-47 loss to No. 19 Trojans

GREENEVILLE, Tenn. --- Alexy Mollenhauer matched her career high with 30 points and added 12 rebounds to lead 19th-ranked Anderson University to a 56-47 win over Tusculum University in South Atlantic Conference women's basketball action Saturday at Pioneer Arena.

Mollenhauer, the reigning SAC Player of the Year, surpassed her previous season high of 29 points in her most-recent game against Erskine on Dec. 16 by shooting 10-for-17 from the field and 6-for-10 from three-point range, while going a perfect 4-for-4 at the foul line. The 2019 All-American recorded her sixth double-double of the season for the Trojans (10-2, 5-1 SAC), who won their third straight game and moved into a tie for first place in the conference with Catawba.

Sydney Wilson led the Pioneers (9-3, 4-2 SAC) with 16 points but Tusculum shot a season-low 27.5 percent (19-for-69) from the field and hit just 4-for-24 from three-point range. Wilson's 16 points left her two shy of becoming the 18th player in program history to score 1,000 career points.

Anderson shot just 37.3 percent (19-for-51) as a team, but matched their season best by going 10-for-22 (45.5 percent) from three-point range. The Trojans were a perfect 8-for-8 at the foul line and finished with a slim 43-39 edge in rebounding over the Pioneers, who dropped into a tie for third place in the SAC with Wingate and Carson-Newman at 4-2.

Mollenhauer had 19 points and eight rebounds in the first half as the Trojans built a 32-23 lead at intermission. Anderson led by as many as 15 points in the fourth quarter before Tusculum ended the game on an 8-2 run. Madison Baggett had 12 points on four three-pointers and contributed five rebounds and five assists for the Trojans, while Alexis Tate grabbed 10 rebounds.

Tusculum missed its first four shots before opening the scoring on a basket by Wilson with 8:21 left in the first quarter. The Pioneers would take their largest lead at 6-3 on a steal and layup by Mia Long, but the Trojans responded with seven straight points to go up 10-6 on a three by Mollenhauer with 4:16 left in the first quarter. A layup by Aliyah Miller would tie the game at 10-10 with 2:55 to go in the period, but Anderson scored seven of the final nine points to go up 17-12 after one.

A putback by Jasmine Williams brought the Pioneers back within 17-14 early in the second quarter, but the Trojans went on a 10-2 run that featured seven straight from Mollenhauer and a three-pointer by Baggett for a 27-16 Anderson lead with 5:36 left in the half. Anderson would go back up by 11 on a layup by McKenzie Gadson in the final minute of the half, before Maddie Sutton scored with under six seconds left to help Tusculum cut the deficit to 32-23 at halftime.

Mollenhauer was the only player on either team in double figures in the first half with her 19 points. Baggett added nine as the Trojans went 6-for-9 from three-point range but just 5-for-17 on two-point shots in the half for an overall 42.3 percentage from the field. Wilson led the Pioneers with six points, while Sutton, Long and Miller added four apiece as Tusculum shot 28.2 percent (11-for-39) from the field and 1-for-12 from beyond the arc in the half.

Tusculum crept to within eight points at 32-24 on a foul shot by Wilson to open the third quarter, but Mollenhauer scored the next eight points for the Trojans to help Anderson to a 40-28 lead with 6:25 remaining in the period. The lead would grow to 14 points on foul shots by Taylor Hair, but Tusculum's Mya Belton hit a pair of three-pointers to bring the Pioneers back within 44-36 with 1:26 to go in the third.

Anderson led 49-37 heading to the fourth quarter, and took its biggest lead of the day at 54-39 on Mollenhauer's sixth three-pointer with 4:03 to go. Anderson would miss four of its final five shots as the Pioneers trimmed the final margin to 56-47 on a three-pointer from Williams in the final 15 seconds.

Williams finished with five points, seven rebounds and two blocked shots in 16 minutes off the bench for the Pioneers, while Belton had six points and Jalia Arnwine added four as the trio combined to hit all four of their three-point shots. Miller had four points and four rebounds in 15 minutes for the Pioneers, whose bench outscored the Trojans' bench by a 21-2 margin.

Long had six points, five rebounds and a game-high three steals for the Pioneers, with Sutton matching Williams for the team lead with seven rebounds to go along with four points in 28 minutes. Tusculum committed just eight turnovers in the game, while the Pioneers forced the Trojans into 17 miscues.

Tusculum will begin a stretch of three consecutive road games on Wednesday, Jan. 8 at Mars Hill, beginning at 5:30 p.m. The Lions are 2-10 overall and the lone winless team in conference action with an 0-6 record.

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