GREENEVILLE, Tenn. --- Tusculum University opened the second half with a 13-0 run and placed all five starters in double figures as the Pioneers defeated Lenoir-Rhyne University 82-57 in South Atlantic Conference women's basketball action Saturday afternoon at Pioneer Arena.
Kendrea Duke scored a career-high 21 points and Yolizma Cupidan added 14 points and nine rebounds for the Pioneers (18-6, 10-6 SAC), who swept the season series from the Bears and won their fifth consecutive game overall.
Madeline Hardy, Madi Suddreth and Kennedy Weigt each scored 12 points for the Bears (12-12, 7-9 SAC), who shot 35.8 percent (19-for-53) from the field and were outrebounded 40-34 by the Pioneers. Tusculum scored 20 points off 15 Lenoir-Rhyne turnovers, while the Pioneers had just eight turnovers of their own, with just one in the second half which came on an offensive foul.
Duke shot 9-for-18 from the field and 3-for-3 from the foul line to surpass her previous career high of 20 set in the season opener against Belmont Abbey on Nov. 9. Duke scored 11 points in the first quarter and 10 more in the third, but battled foul trouble in each half and played just 24 minutes.
Cupidan has finished one rebound shy of a double-double in three of the Pioneers' last four games, matching her career high set against Hiwassee and matched against Mars Hill of nine boards. Cupidan also had four assists and did not turn the ball over while playing all 40 minutes.
Mia Long tallied 12 points, seven rebounds, a season-high nine assists and five steals for the Pioneers, while Jasmine Williams (11 points, five rebounds) and Jalia Arnwine (11 points on 3-for-3 from three-point range) also reached double figures.
Tusculum shot 43.8 percent (28-for-64) from the field and connected on 63.2 percent (12-for-19) from three-point range. It was the Pioneers' best shooting performance from beyond the arc since hitting 63.6 percent (7-for-11) against Wingate in an 82-73 overtime win on Jan. 30, 2016.
There were six ties and six lead changes in the first quarter, with neither team leading by more than five points. A pair of three-pointers by Arnwine and five straight points from Duke helped the Pioneers to a 20-18 lead with 2:04 left in the first quarter. A free throw by Callie Patterson capped an 8-2 run that gave Tusculum its largest lead of the quarter at 23-18 with 1:09 to play, but Weigt hit her fourth three-pointer of the quarter just before the buzzer to tie the game at 23-23.
The Bears scored the first five points of the second quarter to extend their run to 10-0, with a steal and layup by Kendall Toineeta giving Lenoir-Rhyne a 28-23 lead with 7:15 left in the first half. Tusculum responded with six points in a row, going back on top 29-28 on a Williams three-pointer with 5:29 to go in the half.
A three-point play gave the Bears a 30-29 lead, but Tusculum ran off 12 straight points on four consecutive three-pointers, two by Williams and one each by Cupidan and Long to give the Pioneers a 41-31 lead with 2:11 left in the first half. Lenoir-Rhyne was able to close the deficit to 43-39 at halftime with four points in the final 30 seconds.
Cupidan led Tusculum with 12 points and five rebounds in the first half, while Duke had 11 points and Williams nine. Tusculum shot 42.4 percent (14-for-33) in the half, while Lenoir-Rhyne connected at 48.1 percent (13-for-27) from the field, led by 12 points from Weigt and eight from Hardy to go along with seven rebounds.
In the third quarter, the Tusculum defense kept Lenoir-Rhyne scoreless for the first 6:47 until Michaelle Smith made a layup with 3:13 to go in the period to stop a 13-0 Pioneer run. Duke had eight points during the surge for Tusculum, while Lenoir-Rhyne missed its first eight shot attempts in the quarter. The Pioneer lead would be 58-46 heading into the fourth quarter.
Tusculum went on a 14-4 run to start the final period, including three-pointers by Patterson and Lovely Locklear, to go ahead 72-51 with 5:34 left. A three-point play by Hardy with 5:07 left would be the last time the Bears would be within 20 points, as the 25-point win by Tusculum is its largest ever against Lenoir-Rhyne in 47 meetings.
Locklear played 24 minutes off the bench for the Pioneers and finished with five points, three rebounds, four assists and five steals, while Patterson hit a pair of three-pointers and scored eight points in 19 minutes.
Hardy and Ashley Rodriguez shared the team lead with seven rebounds for Lenoir-Rhyne, while Smith had four points and six rebounds in 12 minutes off the bench. The Bears, who went 5-for-8 from three-point range in the first quarter, missed their final 10 shots from beyond the arc.
Tusculum will return to action on Wednesday at 6 p.m. at Carson-Newman.