BLUEFIELD, W.Va. --- The Bluefield State men's basketball team used a 19-3 run to overcome a 14-point second half deficit to defeat visiting Tusculum 81-77 Monday night at Schott Gymnasium.
The Big Blues (5-14) record their third consecutive victory, while handing the Pioneers (7-11) their fourth straight defeat. The Bluefield State win also snaps a three-game losing streak to Tusculum (TC leads the all-time series 6-3).
The duo of Josh Windham and Julian Hernandez paced the Big Blues, scoring 26 and 25 points, respectively. Joseph Adeyemo added 13 points off the bench to go along with his team-high eight rebounds.
Five Pioneers scored in double figures led by Kendall Patterson's 16-point effort, who also posted six assists and four steals. Zach Hartle contributed 15 points off the bench, Cory Fagan scored 11 and Ronnie Baylark tallied 10 points and six rebounds. Chase Mounce added 10 points and led all players with a season-high 11 rebounds for his first double-double of the year and 15th of his career.
Both teams shot lights out in the first half as the Pioneers took a 48-45 lead into the locker room. Tusculum shot 54.5 percent from the field, including 6-of-12 shooting from three-point territory as eight different TC players found their way into the scoring column, paced by Fagan's nine first half markers. Bluefield State connected on 61 percent from floor (20-of-33), including 14 points from Windham, 11 from Hernandez and 10 by Adeyemo.
In the second half, Tusculum used a 17-5 run to take its largest lead of the night at 67-53 with 10:55 remaining. Hartle connected back-to-back three-pointers, while Patterson tallied five points, including his three-point play at the 12:56 mark of the period, part of a 7-0 spurt during the TC run.
The Big Blues mounted their comeback as Windham sparked the charge with nine consecutive points, while Hernandez added eight points during the run, including his go-ahead three-pointer with 4:09 left on the clock to give Bluefield State a 72-70 lead. Meanwhile, the Pioneers went 1-for-7 from the floor during the BSC run that covered 6:45.
Tusculum regained the lead when Patterson made one of two free throws and followed with a layup as the Pioneers went up 73-72 with 2:33 remaining.
Hernandez drained a three-pointer 15 seconds later as Bluefield State moved on top again at 75-73 with 2:18 to go. Fagan tied the game for the eighth time with his driving layup to make knot the score at 75-75 with 1:52 left.
On Bluefield State's next possession, James Day drove down the left side of the lane and connected on a layup and was fouled on the play. He completed the three-point play with the free throw to give him seven points for the game and the Big Blues a 78-75 lead with 1:25 remaining.
Patterson got off a three-pointer with 37 seconds left by it hit off the right side of the rim and was gathered in by the Big Blues. Hernandez was fouled with 27 seconds left as he made his two free throws to make if a five-point game (80-75).
Mounce converted a layup with 15 seconds left to make it a one-possession game at 80-77. TC fouled Hernandez who made one of two at the line to provide the final margin of victory for Bluefield State.
Both teams shot under 40 percent in the final 20 minutes as TC fired 39.3 percent (11-of-28), while Bluefield State went 13-of-36 (36.1 percent).
Bluefield State edged the Pioneers in rebounding, 37-35, but the Big Blues took advantage of their 11 offensive rebounds, converting them into 22 second chance points. TC had nine offensive boards, but could only convert those into seven points. Tusculum edged the Big Blues 36-34 in scoring in the paint and held a 13-7 advantage in points off turnovers as each team committed nine miscues apiece.
Patterson achieved a personal milestone as he scored his 900th-point of his collegiate career, giving him 909 in his 104 games (57 at Barton College, 47 at Tusculum).
Fagan also continued his string of consecutive games with a made three-pointer to a school-record 34 in a row as he went 1-of-5 from downtown.
Tusculum returns to South Atlantic Conference action on Wednesday when they host Brevard College for an 8 p.m. contest. It will be Brevard's final trip to Pioneer Arena as a SAC member as the Tornados will be leaving the league after this season. TC will be going for the season-sweep as the Pioneers won 86-83 in November at Brevard.