CROSSVILLE, Tenn. --- Tusculum led midway through the third quarter, but Tennessee Tech used a 28-3 run to come away with a 79-51 victory in women's basketball exhibition action Sunday afternoon at the Eblen Center.
The Golden Eagles shot 60.7 percent from the field in the second half (17-for-28) and placed four players in double figures against the Pioneers, who connected on 34 percent from the floor (18-for-53) but forced Tennessee Tech into 23 turnovers.
Yaktavia Hickson finished with 15 points and five rebounds for Tennessee Tech, while Jordan Brock and Kesha Brady had 14 points apiece. Akia Harris also reached double figures for the Golden Eagles with 13 points to go along with four rebounds and four assists.
Sydney Wilson led the Pioneers with 17 points on 5-for-11 shooting, including a pair of three-pointers, while Maddie Sutton added 10 points and four rebounds. Mia Long and Lovely Locklear each had seven points for Tusculum, while Martoria Patton led all players with eight rebounds in the game.
Tennessee Tech took a 2-0 lead on two foul shots by Abby Buckner on the first possession of the game, but a Kasey Johnson three-pointer put the Pioneers ahead 3-2 with 7:19 remaining in the first quarter. The Golden Eagles built an 8-3 lead midway through the period, but the Pioneers came back to go ahead 12-10 on a three-pointer by Wilson in the final seconds of the quarter.
A basket by Locklear gave the Pioneers their largest lead of the game at 16-11 with 7:24 left in the first half. A three-point play by MacKenzie Coleman and a layup by Brady put the Golden Eagles back ahead 17-16 with 4:16 to play in the half, only to have Tusculum regain the lead at 20-18 on a layup by Kiana Batagelj with 3:23 remaining in the second quarter.
Another bucket by Batagelj gave the Pioneers a 24-22 lead with 1:04 remaining in the half, and after two free throws by the Golden Eagles' Brady it was Wilson who drilled a three-pointer with 30 seconds to play as Tusculum led 27-26 at halftime.
Wilson led all players with 11 points in the first half, hitting both of her three-point attempts, as Tusculum shot 43.5 percent (10-for-23) from the field and 3-for-6 from beyond the arc. Coleman had a team-high seven points in the first half for Tennessee Tech, which shot 7-for-26 (26.9 percent) from the floor as a team in the opening 20 minutes.
Tusculum led 28-26 following a free throw from Locklear with 9:09 left in the third quarter, but Tennessee Tech answered with five straight points to go ahead 31-28 with 7:19 left in the quarter. Tusculum went back ahead 32-31 on a steal and layup by Long and two free throws by Sutton, the latter coming with 6:28 to play in the quarter.
Tennessee Tech took the lead for good at 33-32 on a layup by Brady, sparking an 8-0 run that pushed the Golden Eagles ahead 39-32 following two free throws by Harris with 4:49 remaining in the quarter. Long had another steal and layup to cut the margin to five with 3:53 left, but the Golden Eagles closed the quarter on a 14-1 run to enter the fourth quarter with a 53-35 lead.
The Tennessee Tech lead ballooned to 27 points as a three-pointer by Buckner put the Golden Eagles ahead 64-37 with 6:38 left. Tusculum cut the deficit to 19 at 66-47 with a 10-2 run of its own, but three-pointers by Brock and Harris and a three-point play by Brady gave the Golden Eagles their largest lead at 79-50 with under two minutes to go.
Long had a game-high five steals to go with her seven points, three rebounds and three assists in 29 minutes of playing time for the Pioneers. Tusculum scored 25 points off 23 Tennessee Tech turnovers, including 15 in the first half, and the Pioneer bench outscored the Golden Eagles' reserves by a 32-27 margin.
Coleman finished with nine points and seven rebounds in 19 minutes off the bench for the Golden Eagles, who outrebounded the Pioneers 45-34. Brady matched Tusculum's Patton for the game high in rebounds for Tennessee Tech with eight.
The Pioneers will open their regular season Friday afternoon at 3 p.m. against Converse at Pioneer Arena in the opening round of the South Atlantic Conference/Conference Carolinas Challenge.