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Pioneers face challenges from Carson-Newman and Wingate at season's midpoint

Pioneers face challenges from Carson-Newman and Wingate at season's midpoint

GREENEVILLE, Tenn. --- After a week that included wins over the bottom two teams in the South Atlantic Conference standings, the Tusculum University women's basketball team will face two of the stronger opponents in the conference this week as the Pioneers reach the midway point of their 2019-20 schedule.

The Pioneers (11-3, 6-2 SAC) will finish a stretch of three straight road games on Wednesday at 5:30 p.m. at Carson-Newman before returning to Pioneer Arena to host Wingate on Saturday at 2 p.m. The Pioneers and Eagles are tied for third in the SAC standings, one game behind co-leaders Anderson and Catawba, while Wingate is a game back in sole possession of fifth place.

Tusculum picked up a pair of road wins last week, beating Mars Hill 94-59 on Wednesday and winning at Coker 75-63 on Saturday. The Pioneers are 11-3 for the second straight season, and come into Wednesday's game at Holt Fieldhouse with a 5-1 record in road games and a 7-1 mark away from home this season. Tusculum has not started a season 8-1 in road/neutral games since 1994-95, when the Pioneers opened the year 10-1 in road/neutral games and went 14-4 overall. In addition, Tusculum is 4-0 in SAC road games for the first time in program history.

RECAPPING THE WEEK
The Pioneers tied a school single-game record by sinking 18 three-pointers in Wednesday's 94-59 win at Mars Hill. Aliyah Miller canned six threes and scored a season-high 25 points for the Pioneers, who matched the school single-game record of 18 three-pointers set against Mars Hill in a 93-68 win on Feb. 21, 2007. Eight different players made at least one three for Tusculum, which shot 18-for-37 from beyond the arc and a season-best 54 percent (34-for-63) from the field in the win.

Mia Long shot 8-for-9 from the field and had 17 points in 17 minutes for the Pioneers, while Kirsten Click came off the bench to score a season-high 12 points. Tusculum outrebounded Mars Hill 42-29, with Jasmine Williams grabbing a season-high 10 rebounds to lead the Pioneers. A 23-3 second-quarter run boosted the Pioneers to a 29-point lead at halftime.

On Saturday, the Pioneers held on down the stretch for a 75-63 win at Coker as Jalia Arnwine equaled her career high with 19 points and Long scored 15 of her 18 points in the second half. Tusculum shot just 36.5 percent from the field and hit exactly 50 percent at the foul line (19-for-38), but the Pioneers scored 25 fast-break points and held the Cobras to 34.4 percent shooting in the win.

Maddie Sutton registered her third career double-double with 10 points and a team-high 12 rebounds, while Long had seven assists, four rebounds and three steals to go along with her 18 points.

LOOKING AHEAD
Carson-Newman (10-4, 6-2 SAC) won its fifth straight game on Saturday with an 89-63 victory over Queens. Braelyn Wykle led the Eagles and matched her season high with 23 points, including seven three-pointers in 11 attempts, while Kayla Marosites had 17 points and 11 rebounds for her 12th double-double in 14 games and eighth in a row. The win improved the Eagles to 5-1 at home and marked the ninth time this season that Carson-Newman scored at least 80 points in a game.

Marosites leads the SAC in scoring at 19.5 points per game and is second in rebounding at 12.5 per contest. The senior also ranks fifth in three-pointers per game (2.1), third in foul shooting (85.3 percent) and fourth in steals per game (2.4). Wykle has started all 14 games as a freshman and averages 14.4 points per game while ranking third in three-pointers per game at 2.3. Also in double figures for Carson-Newman are junior guard Addison Byrd at 11.7 points per game and senior guard Tori Griffin at exactly 10.0 points per contest.

Carson-Newman leads the SAC in scoring average (83.9 ppg), three-pointers per game (10.6), three-point percentage (.387), free throw percentage (.765) and assists per game (18.8) while ranking second in field goal percentage at 44.1 percent and in rebound margin at +8.3 per game. The Eagles have made 10 ore more three-pointers in a game eight times this season, including 15 against both King and Mars Hill and 14 against both Wingate and Queens.

Since Tusculum joined the conference for the 1999-2000 season, the Eagles have gone 29-11 against the Pioneers in their 40 regular-season meetings including six consecutive wins. Tusculum's last victory was a 64-55 win at Holt Fieldhouse on Feb. 17, 2016, one of just four wins for the Pioneers in 20 trips to Jefferson City as a SAC member.

Wingate (11-4, 5-3 SAC) has a pair of road games on this week's schedule, with a trip to Newberry on Wednesday ahead of Saturday's visit to Pioneer Arena. The Bulldogs rallied in the fourth quarter to beat UVa-Wise 63-61 on a go-ahead basket by Hannah Clark with eight seconds left after trailing 59-52 midway through the final period. Teliyah Jeter led the Bulldogs with 19 points and 16 rebounds while Clark had 16 points and Destiny Coleman added 12.

The Bulldogs feature a balanced offense, with four starters averaging between 10 and 12 points per game. Three freshmen lead Wingate in scoring, with Coleman at 11.8 points per game, Clark at 11.5 and Bryanna Troutman averaging 10.4 per game. Jeter checks in at 10.3 points per game and is averaging 9.6 rebounds per game to rank fourth in the conference. Coleman is sixth in the conference in field goal percentage (51.9 percent) and Clark ranks second in three-point percentage at 49.2 percent (30-for-61) entering the week.

As a team, the Bulldogs are last in the conference in both field goal attempts per game (56.0) and three-point attempts per game (11.0). Wingate shoots just 61.7 percent from the foul line as a team, and ranks third from last in turnovers per game at 19.5. The Bulldogs are solid defensively, holding opponents to 59.2 points per game (second-best in the conference) while limiting the opposition to 34.8 percent shooting to rank second to Anderson.

Wingate won all three meetings with Tusculum last season, including a 53-47 victory in the SAC quarterfinals just four days after beating the Pioneers 51-47 in overtime in the regular-season finale. Wingate's three wins over Tusculum last season came by a combined total of 16 points, with the outcome of all three games in doubt until the final minute. Wingate leads the all-time series 33-12 with Tusculum, including seven consecutive wins.

LEADER BOARD
Senior guard Sydney Wilson sat out both games last week and remains two points shy of becoming the 18th player in program history to score 1,000 points. Wilson is averaging 14.2 points per game to rank ninth in the conference, and she ranks 10th in the league with 1.8 three-pointers per game. Long is fourth in the SAC in field-goal percentage at 52.8 percent, and leads the SAC in steals per game (3.6) and ranks third in assists per game (3.5). Her scoring average of 14.1 points per game is 10th-best in the conference.

After shooting 5-for-8 at the foul line against Coker, Sutton slipped to fourth in the conference in free-throw percentage at 82.1 percent (32-for-39). Sutton is ninth in the conference in rebounding at 7.4 per game.

Tusculum is fourth in the SAC in points per game at 74.6 per contest, while rankings third in scoring defense at 60.1 points allowed per game. The Pioneers lead the SAC in steals per game (12.4) and are second in fewest turnovers per game at 15.6. Tusculum forces 23.7 turnovers per game to rank second in the league to Catawba (26.8).

FOLLOW THE GAMES
Brian Stayton describes all the action of Tusculum women's basketball on the Pioneer Sports Network. Fans can listen to the games locally on WSMG Radio at 95.5 FM and 1450 AM, and on-line at jewel955.com. The Pioneer Pre-Game show begins 15 minutes before tip-off, at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday prior to the Carson-Newman contest and at 1:45 p.m. Saturday before the Wingate game. Live video and live stats links are also available at www.TusculumPioneers.com.

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"TUSCULUM WILL PREPARE STUDENT-ATHLETES TO BECOME PRINCIPLED LEADERS WHO ARE CONTRIBUTING CITIZENS AND CHAMPIONS IN LIFE BY INSTILLING THE HIGHEST VALUES OF CHARACTER, INTEGRITY, AND SPORTSMANSHIP."

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