GREENEVILLE, Tenn. --- Mia Long scored a season-high 23 points and set a career best with eight steals as Tusculum University won its seventh straight game Saturday afternoon, beating Coker College 71-57 in South Atlantic Conference women's basketball action at Pioneer Arena.
Callie Patterson added 14 points for the Pioneers (11-2, 4-2 SAC), whose seven straight wins is their longest streak since winning 10 in a row during the 2010-11 season. Tusculum led from start to finish and led by double digits from midway in the second quarter to the finish, through the Pioneer lead never grew larger than 16 points.
Hayley Kropp led the Cobras (2-12, 1-6 SAC) with 20 points and Erin Houser added 10 points, but Coker shot 33.9 percent (20-for-59) from the field and hit just 50 percent (15-for-30) at the foul line in the game.
Tusculum, which came into the game with the leading three-point percentage defense in Division II at 21.2 percent, held Coker to 2-for-11 (18.2 percent) from beyond the arc in the game. The Pioneers also improved on their average of 25.75 forced turnovers per game as the Cobras committed 26 turnovers which led to 31 points for Tusculum.
Long shot 7-for-12 from the field and hit all three of her three-point attempts to surpass her season high of 20 points set at North Greenville on Dec. 19. Long, who leads Division II with 4.25 steals per game, had four steals in the first quarter and finished with a career-high eight thefts, breaking her previous personal best of seven set twice this season.
The Pioneers reached double figures in three-pointers for the third straight game, hitting 10-for-28 from long range as a team. Patterson sank four three-pointers to lead all players as Tusculum was 8-for-17 from beyond the arc in the opening half en route to building a 37-23 lead at intermission.
Tusculum dashed to a 10-0 lead behind five points from Long and three from Patterson before Coker broke their drought on a pair of free throws from Kropp with 6:55 left in the first quarter. The Cobras turned the ball over four times in their first six possession before scoring their first field goal on a basket by Ashauntee Nelson with 6:19 remaining in the quarter.
Back-to-back three-pointers from Patterson and Jalia Arnwine and another three by Yolizma Cupidan helped Tusculum go ahead 19-8 with 3:52 left in the quarter. Tusculum's lead stood at 19-12 after one quarter as the Pioneers went 5-for-12 from three-point range in the period.
Tusculum's lead went back to double figures at 23-12 following two free throws from Patterson and a layup by Long, then a 10-2 run helped the Pioneers to their largest lead of the game at 33-17 on a free throw by Long with 4:10 left in the second quarter. Arnwine's second three-pointer of the game pushed the Pioneers ahead 37-21 with 1:10 to go in the half, and Tusculum carried a 37-23 lead into the locker room.
Long led all players with 16 points in the first half for the Pioneers on 6-for-8 shooting as Tusculum went 12-for-26 (46.2 percent) from the field in the half. Patterson added eight points and Arnwine contributed seven points for the Pioneers, while Houser led the Cobras with 10 points on 5-for-12 shooting.
The Tusculum lead ranged between 12 and 16 points in the third quarter, but both teams shot under 30 percent in the period as the Pioneers headed to the fourth quarter with a 47-32 advantage. The fourth quarter saw a parade to the foul line for both teams, as Tusculum went 10-for-16 at the stripe and Coker finished 7-for-11. However, the Cobras would get no closer than 11 points.
Kendrea Duke also reached double figures for the Pioneers with 11 points and four rebounds despite being limited to 17 minutes due to foul trouble. Arnwine had nine points and five rebounds, and Lovely Locklear contributed eight points in 27 minutes off the Tusculum bench. Also off the bench, Maddie Sutton had six rebounds in 21 minutes to lead the Pioneers on the glass.
Coker's bench outscored the Tusculum reserves by a 22-9 margin, led by eight points and five rebounds by Shay Jackson. Hope Richardson added seven points and a game-high seven rebounds, and Nelson chipped in with four points and six rebounds.
The Cobras finished the game with a 46-33 edge in rebounding, including 21 offensive rebounds which were turned into 16 second-chance points. Coker also had a 28-22 advantage in points in the paint and a 12-10 lead in fast-break points.
Tusculum will look to extend its winning streak on Wednesday night when rival Carson-Newman visits Pioneer Arena for a 6 p.m. start on "Pack The Arena Night" which will feature a variety of events including a raffle for a 55-inch television.