Third-quarter surge lifts Carson-Newman to 72-59 victory over Tusculum

Callie Patterson scored a career-high 22 points for the Pioneers
Callie Patterson scored a career-high 22 points for the Pioneers

GREENEVILLE, Tenn. --- Carson-Newman University opened the second half with a 16-1 run and went on to a 72-59 victory over Tusculum College in South Atlantic Conference women's basketball action Wednesday night at Pioneer Arena.

Mika Wester led four players in double figures for the Eagles (17-8, 14-5 SAC) with 17 points and 12 rebounds, while Kailyn Brooks added 16 points as the Eagles outscored the Pioneers 34-12 in the third quarter to erase a 25-24 halftime deficit.

Callie Patterson led the Pioneers (6-17, 5-14 SAC) with a career-high 22 points while Kasey Johnson added 18 points, five rebounds, three blocked shots and three steals, but Tusculum turned the ball over eight times in the third quarter which led to 16 points for Carson-Newman in the period.

Despite the loss, the Pioneers remain in sole possession of the eighth and final postseason position in the SAC standings with three games left in the regular season. Tusculum will play home games against Newberry on Saturday and Mars Hill next Wednesday before finishing up on the road at Queens on Feb. 25.

Carson-Newman shot 16-for-20 from the field in the third quarter, with Wester and Katie Stubblefield scoring eight points apiece during the period. After trailing by as many as 22 points in the latter stages of the third quarter, Tusculum rallied in the fourth quarter to as close as 10 points before Carson-Newman put the game out of reach.

Tusculum took an early 6-2 lead on back-to-back breakaway layups from Johnson, but Carson-Newman's Brooks answered with a pair of three-pointers to give the Eagles an 8-6 lead midway through the first quarter. The Pioneers then turned around and ran off 10 straight points, including eight in a row from Patterson, to take their largest lead of the game at 16-8 with 1:45 left in the first period. Tusculum led 16-12 at the end of the first quarter behind 10 points from Patterson on 4-for-5 shooting, including a three-pointer.

The Pioneers led 21-14 following a basket from Patterson with 6:34 left in the second period, but the Eagles came back with eight in a row to go ahead 22-21 on a layup by Kaitlyn Cupples with 3:07 left in the half. Patterson connected on a jumper with 48 seconds to go in the half, and the Eagles missed a pair of three-pointers in the closing seconds as Tusculum went to the half ahead 25-24.

Tusculum shot 45.8 percent (11-for-24) from the field in the first half, including 2-for-6 from three-point range. Patterson led all players with 14 points in the half, while Johnson had six points and four rebounds for the Pioneers. Brooks hit three three-pointers in the opening half and tallied nine points to lead the Eagles, who hit just 10-for-35 (28.6 percent) from the floor as a team.

The Eagles took the lead for good at 26-25 on a layup by Kayla Newman on their opening possession of the third quarter, then converted three consecutive Pioneer turnovers into baskets to go on top 34-25 with 8:02 left in the period. The lead ballooned to 40-26 on a layup by Cupples with 6:14 left in the quarter before the Pioneers scored their first field goal of the half on a three-pointer by Johnson with 5:48 remaining. Another 10-0 run from the Eagles put them ahead 52-32 on a Stubblefield basket with 2:17 left in the period, and Carson-Newman went to the fourth quarter holding a 58-37 advantage over the Pioneers.

Tusculum used a 15-5 run through the midway part of the fourth quarter to pull within 65-55 on a three-pointer by Maelyn Head with 2:34 left, but baskets from Brooks and Briana Smith restored the Eagles' lead to 14 with 1:29 remaining.

Patterson shot 9-for-14 from the field for the Pioneers, and hit 3-for-7 from three-point range to surpass her previous high of 17 points set on three previous occasions. Head connected on a pair of three-pointers and finished with seven points and four rebounds in 28 minutes off the Tusculum bench, while Jasmine Queen had seven points and four rebounds in 31 minutes.

Newman matched Wester for the team and game high in rebounds with 12 for the Eagles, while Haris Price had three points to go along with four rebounds, six assists and five steals. Brooks had a game-high seven assists for the Eagles, who had 26 assists on their 31 field goals in the game.

Carson-Newman finished the game with a 38-28 advantage in rebounding, and shot 45.6 percent (31-for-68) overall including 21-for-33 (63.6 percent) in the second half. Tusculum finished the game slightly better at 45.7 percent (21-for-46) and went 7-for-17 from three-point range, but turned the ball over 22 times which the Eagles converted into 23 points. Tusculum scored 22 points off Carson-Newman's 16 turnovers and had a 14-12 edge in fast-break points.

The Pioneers host Newberry on Saturday at 2 p.m. at Pioneer Arena. The Wolves defeated the Pioneers 71-56 at home on Jan. 8, and are currently in a three-way tie for fifth place in the conference at 11-8 with Lenoir-Rhyne and Catawba.