Defense sparks Tusculum to 65-51 win over Anderson

Jasmine Queen scored a career-high 14 points
Jasmine Queen scored a career-high 14 points

GREENEVILLE, Tenn. --- Tusculum College snapped a five-year losing streak to Anderson University with a 65-51 victory in South Atlantic Conference women's basketball action Wednesday night at Pioneer Arena.

Kasey Johnson had 17 points and five blocked shots for the Pioneers (5-14, 4-11 SAC), who scored 25 points off 24 Trojan turnovers to end an 11-game losing streak in the series. Tusculum's last win over Anderson came on Jan. 18, 2012 on the road, as the Trojans had won 11 in a row by an average of 14.2 points per game.

Alexy Mollenhauer was the lone player to reach double figures for the Trojans (14-5, 11-4 SAC), who shot 31.5 percent (17-for-54) from the field and trailed by double figures from the midway point of the second quarter until the final two minutes of the fourth quarter.

Johnson shot 8-for-14 from the field, including a three-pointer, and matched her season and career high for blocked shots while playing all 40 minutes. Jasmine Queen had a career-high 14 points in 38 minutes of playing time for the Pioneers, while Sydney Wilson also reached double figures with 12 points. Overall, Tusculum shot 44.1 percent (26-for-59) from the field and 6-for-19 from three-point range.

Tusculum used a 7-0 run to take an 11-5 lead on a basket by Queen with 5:21 left in the first quarter, and built the margin to eight at 15-7 on a three-pointer by Monica Roberts with 3:06 to play in the quarter. Queen closed out an eight-point first quarter by converting a layup with 13 seconds left as the Pioneers led 19-11 at the end of one quarter.

Back-to-back buckets by Benedicta Makakala extended the Tusculum lead to 28-13 with 7:13 left in the second quarter, but Mollenhauer answered with seven in a row to bring the Trojans within 28-20 with 5:59 remaining in the half. That would be as close as Anderson would be the remainder of the game, as the Pioneers promptly reeled off eight straight points, including two three-pointers by Patterson, to go on top 36-20 with 3:56 left in the half.

Tusculum led 42-28 at intermission behind 10 points from Queen and nine from Patterson on 3-for-4 from three-point range. The Pioneers shot 54.5 percent (18-for-33) from the field in the first half and 5-for-11 on three-pointers, while committing just three turnovers. Anderson shot 40.9 percent from the field and went 4-for-10 from three-pointers in the first half, with Mollenhauer leading the way with 10 points and four rebounds.

The Pioneers built their lead back to 16 points on three different occasions in the third quarter, while Anderson could get no closer than 12 following a three-pointer by Sara Goble that cut the Tusculum lead to 46-34 with 5:04 left in the quarter. Tusculum went to the fourth quarter with a 52-39 lead following a free throw from the Trojans' Jasmine Franklin with two seconds left in the third period.

A basket by Wilson gave the Pioneers a 57-43 lead with exactly five minutes to play, but Mollenhauer hit back-to-back layups and Heather Jankowy drilled a three-pointer, bringing the Trojans within nine points at 59-50 with 2:09 left. Wilson connected on a jumper with just under a minute left to give the Pioneers a 61-50 advantage, and the Pioneers closed out the win with another basket from Johnson and two free throws by Makakala in the final 30 seconds.

Makakala sat out the second half of the third quarter and the first six minutes of the fourth quarter after picking up her fourth foul, and finished with six points, five assists and three steals in 29 minutes. Maelyn Head added four points, a team-high six rebounds and five assists in 16 minutes off the bench for the Pioneers, while Patterson had nine points and five rebounds in 34 minutes.

Franklin finished as the game's top rebounder with 11 for the Trojans, who had a 48-26 advantage on the glass over the Pioneers. Anderson had 19 offensive rebounds, which they turned into 13 points, but could only score five points off 10 Tusculum turnovers. Jankowy added nine points and five rebounds but shot just 2-for-12 from the field and had six turnovers.

Tusculum will remain home to face Lenoir-Rhyne on Saturday at 2 p.m. at Pioneer Arena. The Bears beat the Pioneers 61-33 in Hickory, North Carolina in the first meeting of the season between the teams on Dec. 14.