Pioneers play tough in 77-63 loss to No. 2 Royals

Pioneers play tough in 77-63 loss to No. 2 Royals
GREENEVILLE, Tenn. --- Todd Withers recorded a double-double with 23 points and 11 rebounds to lead the second-ranked Queens University of Charlotte to a 77-63 South Atlantic Conference road win at Tusculum Saturday afternoon in men's basketball action at Pioneer Arena.
The Royals (7-0, 2-0 SAC) remained undefeated on the year but had to hold off several runs by the Pioneers (2-6, 0-2 SAC).  
Tusculum is coming off a tough home stretch as the Pioneers hosted two of the top-four teams in NCAA Division II this week in No. 2 Queens and No. 4 Lincoln Memorial (on Wednesday).
Queens' Mike Davis added 15 points, while teammates Lewis Diankulu and Jalin Alexander added 14 and 10 points, respectively.
Tusculum's Peyton Woods added a team-high 12 points off the bench, while Jackie Davis contributed 10 points, five rebounds, three assists and two blocked shots.
The Royals used a 23-7 run in the first half to race out to their largest lead of the game at 31-12 with 9:37 left in the opening period.  The Pioneers responded with 14 unanswered points in a four-minute span to trail 31-26 following a rebound a put-back slam from sophomore Caleb Hodnett with 5:37 left before the intermission.
Queens pushed the advantage out to eight at 34-26 with 4:45 to go in the half, but back-to-back buckets by Donovan Donaldson had the Pioneers within four at 34-30 with 3:13 to go on the scoreboard.  The Royals scored five straight on a Withers trey and a pair of Ike Agusi free throws to move out to a 39-30 lead.  Donaldson connected on a layup in the final moments as Tusculum trailed 39-32 at the intermission.
Tusculum cut the Queens lead to three at 43-40 in the first 2:53 of the second half thanks to a three-point play from junior Jackie Davis.  The Royals scored six straight including a layup from Shaun Willett for a 49-40 lead with 16:07 left in the game.
Tusculum scored seven straight, including a three-pointer from Davis as TC got to within two points at 49-47 with 11:25 remaining in the contest.
But the Royals went on a 10-2 run over the next 3:29 to pump its advantage back to 61-49 following a Diankulu layup.  TC got five straight points from Charlotte, North Carolina freshman Zailan Peeler as TC now trailed 61-54 with 6:41 to go.
Queens put together a 7-0 run over the next 2:17 to push its advantage out to double figures for good as the Royals led by as many as 16 down the stretch.
Queens finished the game shooting 42.2 percent from the floor with nine 3-pointers and went 14-of-19 at the free throw line (73.7&).  Tusculum shot 41.4 percent from the field, while also making nine treys. But TC went 6-of-11 from the charity stripe (54.5%) and were out-rebounded 42-34.
Queens had 22 assists on its 27 field goals made led by Agusi who dished out a game-high eight helpers.  The Royals outscored TC 32-24 in the paint, but TC's bench outscored the visitors by a 41-10 margin.  
TC also tallied a season-high eight blocked shots, including a game-high four from Brandon Mitchell. Mitchell finished the game with eight points on 4-of-5 shooting and hauled in six rebounds in his 31 minutes of action.
Donaldson contributed nine points, while Peeler added eight markers in the loss.
Tusculum will be preparing for final exams this week and will return to the hardwood next Saturday for a 4 p.m. contest at Catawba.