Fagan scores 20 in Pioneers' 70-65 SAC win over Lenoir-Rhyne

Fagan scores 20 in Pioneers' 70-65 SAC win over Lenoir-Rhyne

GREENEVILLE, Tenn. --- Cory Fagan scored 20 points, including five 3-pointers in leading the Tusculum men's basketball team to a 70-65 South Atlantic Conference victory over Lenoir-Rhyne Saturday afternoon at Pioneer Arena.

Tusculum (10-12, 7-9 SAC) avenges a 13-point loss to the Bears (9-12, 8-8 SAC) from earlier this season as the Pioneers are riding a three-game home winning streak and have won three of their last four games overall.

Saturday's win snapped L-R's four-game winning streak over the Pioneers in games played in Greeneville.  It was TC's first win over the Bears at Pioneer Arena since Feb. 22, 2012.

Tusculum closed out the first half with a 17-7 run in the final 9:28 to take a 36-29 lead into the locker room.

In the second half, with Tusculum holding onto a 48-46 advantage, the Black and Orange went on a 13-3 spurt as TC took its largest lead of the game at 61-49 with 5:48 remaining.  During the 13-3 run, TC got a pair of treys from Fagan and a three-point by rookie Caleb Hodnett as the Pioneers led by a dozen.

TC led 64-52 with 4:11 to go, but the Bears answered with nine unanswered points, started by a three-point play by Reed Lucas and capped off by a Lucas three-pointer as the Pioneers holding onto a 64-61 lead with 1:39 to go. 

After a TC timeout, Fagan worked to get free and drained a clutch trey from the right wing for a 67-61 lead with 1:08 remaining.

Jalen Variste was fouled as he connected on both ends of the one-and-bonus with 62 seconds on the scoreboard as the Bears trailed 67-63.

Tusculum's Kendall Patterson was fouled with 43.4 seconds remaining as he made one of his two free throws.  The Bears got off a pair of three-point shots, but the second hit off the rim and hit the shot clock to give the ball to Tusculum with 22.5 on the clock.

Fagan was fouled with 12.7 seconds left as he made one of his two free throw tries for a 69-63 Tusculum lead.  Variste converted on layup with 6.2 seconds to go, but Patterson made one of two free throws with 3.8 seconds left as the Pioneer held on for the victory.

With the win, the Pioneers are still in ninth place in the conference, but are one game out of the three-team logjam for sixth place in the SAC standings.

Hodnett finished the game with 13 points and hauled in nine rebounds for a second consecutive game.  Hodnett shot 5-of-7 from the floor, including 2-of-3 from three-point territory.  Zach Davis added 12 points and nine boards, while Chase Mounce posted eight points as he becomes on the 15th player in program history to eclipse 1,200 career points (1,206).

Fagan's five treys extends his school-record streak to 38 consecutive games with a three-pointer, a run which began on Jan. 9, 2016.

L-R's Darrion Evans and Variste led the Bears with 16 points each, Lucas added 14 poitns, while Jacques Chambers and Filip Kekovar hauled down 13 and 10 rebounds, respectively.

Tusculum edged Lenoir-Rhyne 42-41 on the boards as the Pioneers finished the game shooting 43.9 percent from the floor, while L-R was limited to 36 percent shooting, including 8-of-35 from three-point territory (23%).

Tusculum will be at Georgia Tech on Tuesday for a 7:30 p.m. game in Atlanta. The game will be an exhibition game for the Pioneers, but will count for the Yellow Jackets.  TC will be step back into SAC play on Wednesday night as they travel to Harrogate, Tennessee to take on nationally-ranked Lincoln Memorial at Tex Turner Arena.