Catawba holds on for 71-66 victory over Pioneers

Catawba holds on for 71-66 victory over Pioneers

GREENEVILLE, Tenn. --- Terri Rogers recorded game highs of 22 points and 15 rebounds to help Catawba to a 71-66 victory over Tusculum in South Atlantic Conference women's basketball action Saturday afternoon at Pioneer Arena.

Serena Brown added 18 points and six assists for the Indians (12-8, 10-3 SAC) who shot just 33.9 percent (21-for-62) from the field but outrebounded the Pioneers 45-38 and scored 28 points off 19 Tusculum turnovers to finish off a sweep of the season series. Catawba also benefitted from Tusculum's performance at the foul line, as the Pioneers shot just 11-for-23 (47.8 percent) in the game and 8-for-17 in the second half.

Kendrea Duke registered her first double-double of the season with 19 points and 10 rebounds for the Pioneers (13-6, 8-5 SAC), who have lost back-to-back games for the first time this season. Four players finished in double figures for the Pioneers, with Mia Long adding 14 points on 7-for-7 shooting to go with six rebounds and seven assists, and Yolizma Cupidan and Sydney Wilson contributing 11 points apiece.

Tusculum had used a 10-0 run to pull into a 42-42 tie late in the third quarter, but Catawba answered with a 15-3 surge of its own to take the lead for good. The Pioneers rallied to within three points in the final seconds, but Rogers hit three out of four free throws in the final 15 seconds to help preserve the win.

For the second straight game, the Pioneers fell behind from the start as the Indians scored the first seven points. After turning the ball over on its first three possessions, Tusculum got on the board on a jumper by Cupidan with 7:40 left in the first quarter. The Pioneers pulled into an 11-11 tie on a three-point play by Duke with 3:19 left in the period, and carried a 17-16 lead into the second quarter as the Indians shot just 21.1 percent (4-for-19) from the field in the opening period.

Catawba grabbed a 21-17 lead in the opening minutes of the second quarter on a three-pointer by Taisha DeShazo and a layup from Rogers, but the Pioneers came back with six straight points, including four from Duke, to go on top 23-21 with 5:55 to play in the half. A bucket by Rogers with 26 seconds to go in the quarter gave Catawba a 27-26 lead that it carried into the halftime locker room.

Duke shot 4-for-6 from the field and had 11 points and five rebounds to pace the Pioneers in the first half, while Rogers had nine points and eight boards to lead the Indians. Tusculum shot 44 percent (11-for-25) from the field in the opening half, while Catawba shot just 25 percent (8-for-32) but had 10 offensive rebounds and 16 points off Tusculum turnovers.

Two free throws from Wilson brought the Pioneers within 34-32 with 7:03 left in the third quarter, but Rogers contributed six points during an 8-0 run that gave the Indians a 42-32 lead with 5:35 to play in the period. However, Cupidan (six) and Duke (four) combined to score 10 straight points to bring Tusculum into a 42-42 tie with 2:42 left in the third quarter. Catawba came back with two three-pointers from Brown and another by Toni Tucker, the latter giving the Indians a 53-45 lead entering the fourth quarter.

Catawba took its largest lead of the game at 57-45 on a layup by Shemya Stanbeck with 8:12 left, and Tusculum would get no closer than seven points until the final minute, when a basket by Cupidan cut the Indians' lead to 66-60. Two free throws from Tucker with 24 seconds to play pushed Catawba ahead 68-62, but Wilson hit three foul shots to bring the Pioneers back within 68-64 with 15 seconds left. A free throw by Rogers was followed by a putback from Duke to pull Tusculum within 69-66, but Rogers hit two foul shots with under a second remaining to lock up the win.

Duke shot 7-for-10 from the field and 5-for-7 from the foul line to surpass her previous season high of 17 points set against Newberry on Jan. 13. Duke's 10 rebounds easily broke her season best of seven boards set twice earlier this month. Cupidan went 5-for-11 from the field and had four rebounds to go along with her 11 points, while Kasey Johnson battled foul trouble and finished with eight points and eight rebounds in 25 minutes.

Stanbeck had nine points, six rebounds and five assists in just 18 minutes for the Indians, shooting 7-for-8 from the foul line. DeShazo added eight points and three steals, while Tucker had seven points and four rebounds. The Indians shot 22-for-28 (78.6 percent) at the foul line as a team, including 14-for-19 in the second half, and were 7-for-15 on three-pointers in the game.

Tusculum did outscore Catawba 38-20 in the paint, while the Pioneer bench finished with a 22-7 scoring margin over the Indians. Tusculum also had an 11-3 advantage in fast-break points in the game. Catawba had 16 offensive rebounds in the game, which it turned into 16 points, while Tusculum had just seven points on 10 offensive rebounds.

The Pioneers have their bye in the conference round-robin schedule this Wednesday, and will be back in action on Saturday when 23rd-ranked Wingate visits Pioneer Arena for a 2 p.m. start. The Bulldogs beat the Pioneers on their home court on Dec. 16 by a score of 83-69.