Second-half struggles costly for Lady Eagles in 71-55 loss to Tusculum

Second-half struggles costly for Lady Eagles in 71-55 loss to Tusculum

JEFFERSON CITY, Tenn. — The Carson-Newman women's basketball team struggled to execute on both ends of the floor in the second half on Wednesday night as it dropped a 71-55 decision to Tusculum College in South Atlantic Conference action at Holt Fieldhouse.

The Lady Eagles shot just 29.2 percent during the final 20 minutes and allowed Tusculum to score at a 58.3 percent clip on their way to the loss.

Tusculum senior guard Jasmine Gunn scored a game-high 19 points and senior center Catherine Hintz set season highs with 16 points and 12 rebounds to lead the Pioneers to the win.

Senior guard Jasmine Parker added 12 points for the Pioneers (7-6, 3-2 SAC), who outscored the Lady Eagles (5-9, 1-3 SAC) by a 38-23 margin in the second half. The win was Tusculum's second in its last 15 trips to Holt Fieldhouse.

Zoriah Williams (Calera, Ala.) paced Carson-Newman with 17 points and five rebounds while Mandy Mendenhall (Kingston Springs, Tenn.) finished with 15 points for the Lady Eagles, who shot 36.4 percent (20-for-55) from the field as a team and saw the Pioneers hold decisive advantages in both points in the paint (42-22) and bench scoring (24-7).

Gunn had a strong all-around effort for the Pioneers, shooting 6-for-13 from the field and 7-for-11 from the line while adding seven rebounds, a game-high six assists and a steal in 38 minutes of action. Hintz shot 7-for-13 from the field in 26 minutes off the bench for her first double-double of the season.

Overall, the Pioneers shot 47.4 percent (27-for-57) from the field and controlled the boards by a margin of 41-29 over the Lady Eagles. Tusculum also finished 15-for-22 at the foul line as a team and connected on two of their five three-point attempts.

Carson-Newman jumped on top early, using three straight three-pointers by Mendenhall to take an early 11-5 lead, but Tusculum battled back to knot the score at 15-15 on a coast-to-coast layup by freshman guard Nequoiah Anderson. Trailing 22-17, back-to-back jumpers by Gunn ignited a 10-0 run that pushed the Pioneers to their largest lead of the half at 27-22 with 4:29 left in the half.

Mendenhall hit a jumper with 1:45 left in the half to pull the Lady Eagles back into a 32-32 deadlock, but a free throw by Gunn with 1:33 remaining sent the Pioneers into the locker room with a 33-32 advantage.

Gunn led all players with 12 points in the first half to go along with five rebounds, while Hintz added 10 points on 5-for-10 shooting and six rebounds in 13 minutes off the Pioneer bench. Mendenhall finished with 11 points to pace the Lady Eagles in the opening half, followed by Williams' eight points.

Carson-Newman briefly regained the lead at 34-33 on a basket by Williams with 19:22 remaining, but a three-point play by Parker put Tusculum ahead for good at 36-34 with 18:58 left. The Eagles whittled a six-point deficit down to one at 42-41 following a three-pointer by Cassie Bates (Fremont, Calif.) with 14:30 remaining, but a free throw by sophomore forward Fayola Moise, a jumper by Gunn and a three-pointer by Anderson gave Tusculum its largest lead to that point at 48-41 with 12:28 remaining.

The Pioneers extended their lead to 14 at 57-43 on a three-pointer by senior guard Brittni Oliver with 7:39 to go, and the Lady Eagles could only briefly trim the deficit under double figures the rest of the way.

The Lady Eagles return to action on Saturday as they host Newberry College. Tipoff is set for 2 p.m. at Holt Fieldhouse.

(Courtesy of Tusculum Sports Information)