Tusculum rallies twice to beat Eagles, 67-61
GREENEVILLE, Tenn. --- Tusculum used a pair of runs at the end of each half as the Pioneers rallied from a 12-point deficit to defeat rival Carson-Newman, 67-61 Wednesday night at Pioneer Arena in South Atlantic Conference men's basketball action.
Tusculum was paced by Kevin Vest's 22 points as he dished out a career-high seven assists and shot 11-of-11 from the free throw line. Jordan Davidson added 15 points and six rebounds, while Justin Steigerwald and Dionte Grey added seven markers apiece.
Carson-Newman's Ismael Sanders scored 17 points as he shot 7-of-9 from the floor, including 2-of-2 from three-point land and led the visitors with four assists and three steals. Marcellous Perez finished with 13 points, including three 3-pointers, while Antoine Davis accounted for 10 points and seven boards in the loss.
The Eagles erupted on a 15-2 run in the first half to take a 27-15 lead at the 8:07 mark. Carson-Newman used a barrage of three-pointers in the spurt, including two by Perez and one by Kevin Leatherwood.
Tusculum answered with 17 unanswered points over a span of eight minutes to take a 32-27 lead. Vest scored 10 points during the 17-0 run, including 5-of-5 from the free throw line, including a three-point play and a three-pointer. During that span, the Eagles missed six field goal attempts and a pair of free throws during the eight-minute drought. Eagles' Kevin Hare snapped the skid with layup with seven seconds remaining as Tusculum led 32-29 at the intermission.
Tusculum scored the first bucket of the second half, but the Eagles answered with a 21-7 to take a 50-41 lead with 10 minutes left in the game, following a Leatherwood three-pointer.
Back came the Pioneers with a 12-0 run over the next 4:25 to retake the lead for good at 53-50 with 5:35 left in the contest. Vest led the charge once again as he scored seven of the dozen points, including four straight free throws and a three-pointer.
C-N got a jumper by Perez to pull within one at 53-52, but Tusculum followed with a 12-3 spurt to take its largest lead of the night at 65-55 with 1:10 left thanks to a pair of free throws by Tommy Klempin to put the game out of reach.
Tusculum finished the game shooting 48.8 percent from the floor, including 11-of-21 in the second half (52.4%). TC also won the rebound-battle by a 29-23 margin, while shooting a sizzling 19-of-21 from the foul line (90.5%).
Tusculum also committed 15 turnovers on the night (four below its average), including only six miscues in the final 20 minutes.
Vest's 11-of-11 free throw performance ties for the fifth-best outing at the line in recorded Tusculum history.