GREENEVILLE, Tenn. --- Tusculum led by 35 points at halftime and cruised to an 83-59 victory over North Greenville in non-conference women's basketball action Friday evening at Pioneer Arena.
Yolizma Cupidan led four players in double figures for the Pioneers (4-0) with 18 points, six assists and four steals, Callie Patterson added 16 points and Sydney Wilson contributed 15 points and six rebounds for the Pioneers, who are off to their best start in six seasons. Tusculum scored 24 points off 25 North Greenville turnovers and outscored the Crusaders 20-4 in fast-break points.
Karen Donehew paced the Crusaders (0-3) with 25 points and 11 rebounds, but North Greenville shot 20 percent from the field in the first half and 39.7 percent for the game (23-for-58). Tyana Saunders was the only other player to reach double figures for the Crusaders, finishing with 12 points, four rebounds and four steals.
Kasey Johnson also finished in double figures for the Pioneers with 12 points and eight rebounds, while Martoria Patton had eight points and a team-high 11 rebounds in just 11 minutes of playing time. Tusculum's bench outscored the North Greenville reserves by a 39-10 margin, and the Pioneers went 9-for-25 from three-point range in the contest.
Through four games, the Pioneers are outscoring the opposition by exactly 25 points per game and have forced their opponents into an average of 26.5 turnovers per game. All four of Tusculum's wins have come by 18 points or more, and the Pioneers have trailed for a total of 14 seconds through four games. Tusculum has also surpassed the 75-point mark in four straight games for the first time since the 2009-10 season, and the Pioneers are averaging 86.2 points per game.
The Pioneers led 8-6 midway through the first quarter, but closed the period on a 14-1 run as the Crusaders missed their final eight shots from the field and turned the ball over eight times in the quarter. Johnson had six points on 3-for-3 shooting and added five rebounds in the quarter for the Pioneers, while Cupidan had five points and Patton and Maddie Sutton added four points each.
The second quarter was all Tusculum as the Pioneers outscored the Crusaders 26-6. Back-to-back three-pointers from Lovely Locklear and Cupidan pushed Tusculum's lead to 29-9 with 7:08 left in the half. Following a layup by the Crusaders' Donehew with 6:12 to go, the Pioneers scored 19 of the final 21 points of the half to take a 48-13 lead into halftime. Patterson capped the scoring with three-pointers on consecutive possessions in the final minute, as the Pioneers went 5-for-7 from behind the arc in the quarter.
Tusculum shot 53.6 percent (15-for-28) from the field in the first half and 12-for-15 from the foul line. Cupidan nearly outscored North Greenville by herself in the first half, finishing with 12 points, while Patterson had 11 in 12 minutes off the bench and Johnson added six points and six rebounds. Donehew led the Crusaders with five points in the first half, but North Greenville shot 5-for-25 (20 percent) from the field and committed 17 turnovers.
The Pioneers took their largest lead of the game at 51-15 on a three-pointer by Locklear just over a minute into the third quarter, but the Crusaders rallied behind Donehew and Saunders, who combined for 17 points in the quarter as North Greenville trailed 66-36 entering the final period.
Tusculum led 77-49 after a three-pointer by Patterson with 5:54 left, only to have North Greenville go on a 10-2 run over a five-minute span to pull within 20 in the final minute. Baskets by Patterson and Johnson in the final 30 seconds closed out the scoring in the game.
The Pioneers outrebounded the Crusaders 41-38, the fourth time in as many games that Tusculum won the battle of the boards. Tusculum also blocked six shots as a team and had 18 steals, including five by Sutton and three by Wilson. All 10 players who saw action for the Pioneers had at least one assist, while eight of the 10 players had at least one steal.
Patterson went 5-for-7 from the field, including 3-for-4 from three-point range, while both Johnson and Cupidan were 5-for-9 from the floor for the Pioneers. Cupidan, Wilson and Locklear each connected on a pair of three-pointers, while Patton shot 6-for-7 from the foul line and had six of her 11 rebounds on the offensive glass.
Tusculum will head to the road for the first time this season when the Pioneers visit Virginia State for a non-conference game Wednesday at 5 p.m.