BLUEFIELD, W.Va. --- Tusculum scored the game's first 18 points and went on to a 78-41 victory over Bluefield State in non-conference women's basketball action Saturday afternoon.
The Pioneers (5-1) set a school single-game record by forcing the Big Blues (1-5) into 51 turnovers, converting those miscues into 48 points. Tusculum also came up with 25 steals in the game, the third-most in a single game in program history, and had a 30-4 advantage in fast-break points over Bluefield State.
Kasey Johnson and Mia Long shared the team high in scoring for the Pioneers with 15 points apiece, while Lovely Locklear had 13 points and five steals and Sydney Wilson added 11 points off the bench. Tusculum shot 39.5 percent from the field (32-for-81) but had 20 offensive rebounds which it turned into 16 second-chance points.
Lyric Hampton was the only player to reach double figures for the Big Blues, scoring 13 points on 4-for-5 shooting from three-point range to go along with seven rebounds and 14 turnovers. Bluefield State hit 33.3 percent (14-for-42) from the floor as a team but outrebounded the Pioneers 46-43.
Johnson hit a three-pointer on the Pioneers' opening possession, followed by five points in a row from both Locklear and Long as Tusculum jumped to a 13-0 lead in the first two minutes. The Tusculum lead swelled to 18-0 as Bluefield State missed its first six shots and turned the ball over eight times, before a three-pointer by Hampton put the Big Blues on the board with 4:31 to go in the first quarter.
The Pioneers finished the quarter with 11 straight points, including five from Jalia Arnwine and two each from Wilson, Maddie Sutton and Locklear to take a 29-3 lead at the end of the first period. Tusculum shot 11-for-27 from the field in the first quarter, but forced Bluefield State into 17 turnovers while holding it to 1-for-10 from the floor.
The Tusculum lead grew to 31-3 on a basket by Callie Patterson in the first minute of the second quarter, but Bluefield State answered with a 10-2 run that featured seven points from Lyndsay Hatfield, the final two bringing the Big Blues within 33-13 with 4:16 to go in the first half. Johnson finished the half with a pair of field goals for the Pioneers to send Tusculum to halftime with a 39-16 lead.
Long, Johnson and Locklear each had seven points to led the Pioneers in the first half, while Yolizma Cupidan had five points and four rebounds. Tusculum forced Bluefield State into 27 turnovers in the first half, coming with 15 steals and turning them into 26 points. Hatfield's seven points stood as the team high in the first half for Bluefield State, which shot 5-for-19 (26.3 percent) as a team but outrebounded Tusculum by a 26-20 margin.
Tusculum's offense came back to life in the third quarter, as the Pioneers outscored the Big Blues 27-8 to take its largest lead of the day at 66-24 at the end of the period. Long and Johnson led Tusculum with eight points apiece in the quarter as the Pioneers shot 52.4 percent (11-for-21) from the field in the period. Bluefield State shot 3-for-11 from the field in the quarter and had 17 turnovers as a team. The fourth quarter saw the Big Blues outscore the Pioneers 17-12, but the Tusculum lead never dropped below 36 points.
Johnson, who shot 7-for-15 from the field, also had six rebounds for the Pioneers while Martoria Patton had six boards to go along with a team-high four assists. Cupidan led Tusculum with eight rebounds and had seven points and three assists in 30 minutes, while Long was 6-for-9 from the floor and dished out three assists.
Off the bench, Arnwine had eight points and four steals in 15 minutes of playing time, while Sutton had four rebounds and three steals and Deniz Dalkiran grabbed five rebounds. The Tusculum bench, led by Wilson's 11 points on 5-for-11 shooting, outscored the Bluefield State bench by a 27-7 margin.
Hatfield led all players with nine rebounds and had eight points for Bluefield State, with Kaitlyn Dobbs contributing four points and eight boards in 19 minutes. Rosalie Pozo scored eight points and had four rebounds and three assists in 36 minutes for the Big Blues, which shot 7-for-20 from three-point range as a team.
Tusculum will open its South Atlantic Conference schedule on Wednesday night at Pioneer Arena against Lincoln Memorial, with game time scheduled for 6 p.m.