Tusculum slides by Lady Eagles with late rally, 55-49
GREENEVILLE, Tenn. --- Staci Hicks scored 13 of her game-high 17 points in the second half as Tusculum College defeated rival Carson-Newman College 55-49 in South Atlantic Conference women's basketball action Wednesday night at Pioneer Arena.
April McCann added 15 points and matched her season high with 12 rebounds for the Pioneers (9-4, 3-2 SAC), who shot just 34.8 percent (23-for-66) from the field but that was good enough to defeat an Eagle squad that connected on 29.1 percent (16-for-55) in the contest. After struggling as a team in the first half, the Pioneers turned in a strong shooting performance in the second half as they connected on 55.6 percent (15-for-27).
Zoriah Williams was the lone player to reach double figures for the Eagles (8-5, 2-3 SAC), scoring 16 points and grabbing 12 rebounds. In addition to its 29 percent shooting from the field, the Eagles went 2-for-14 from three-point range and shot just 15-for-24 (62.5 percent) from the foul line.
The teams took turns holding small leads for most of the first half until the Eagles jumped to a 20-13 lead with 3:29 left in the half. A three-pointer by Kendal Baxter late in the half sent the Pioneers to the locker room facing a 22-18 deficit. McCann led all players with seven points and seven rebounds for the Pioneers, while Williams had six points and six boards for the Eagles.
The Pioneers tied the game 24-24 on a fast-break layup by Jama Hammontree with 14:37 left, but the Eagles went up 31-26 following a three-pointer by Whitney Moody with 12:20 to go. McCann answered with a steal and layup and followed with a three-pointer on the Pioneers' next trip to give Tusculum a 32-31 lead with 10:43 remaining.
After Carson-Newman took its final lead at 34-32 with 7:38 remaining, the Pioneers tied it at 34-34 on two free throws by Hicks with 7:18 to play. Hicks then hit the go-ahead layup after a turnover to give Tusculum the lead for good at 36-34 with 7:07 remaining.
Holding a 44-41 lead with under four minutes left, Tusculum went on a decisive 7-0 run to take its largest lead of the game at 51-41 with 3:01 left. Baxter hit a layup on the break to give Tusculum a seven-point lead, then drilled a three-pointer on the next trip to give the Pioneers a double-digit advantage.
Carson-Newman responded with eight straight points of its own, pulling within 51-49 on a layup by Courdne Miles with 1:11 left. However, McCann drilled a clutch jumper with 56 seconds left to restore a two-possession lead for the Pioneers, and Hicks closed the scoring with a breakaway layup with less than four seconds left after a pair of Eagle misses.
Baxter battled early foul trouble but finished with eight points for the Pioneers, hitting a pair of three-pointers. Alishia Mosley gave Tusculum a big spark off the bench with nine points in 21 minutes. Hicks and Linda Aughburns each pulled nine rebounds for Tusculum, which outrebounded Carson-Newman by a 52-39 margin.
Miles tallied nine points and three blocks off the bench for the Eagles, who received eight points and six boards from Moody and six points and five rebounds from Rechelle Dye.
Carson-Newman returns to action on Saturday at Newberry College. Tipoff is at 2 p.m.