GREENEVILLE, Tenn. --- Mia Long scored a game-high 18 points and Tusculum University shot 50 percent from the field for the second straight game as the Pioneers beat Lincoln Memorial University 69-58 in South Atlantic Conference women's basketball action Wednesday night at Pioneer Arena.
Four players reached double figures for the Pioneers (16-7, 8-7 SAC), who have won five of their last six games in large part by holding the opposition to 30.7 percent shooting from the field in those five victories. The Railsplitters (15-12, 10-9 SAC) hit just 33.8 percent from the floor and allowed Tusculum to shoot 65.4 percent (17-for-26) from the field in the second half as the Pioneers erased a seven-point third-quarter deficit.
Kendrea Duke had 14 points, eight rebounds and a career-high five blocked shots for the Pioneers, while Yolizma Cupidan reached double figures for the 12th straight game as she scored 10 points and had five rebounds. Jalia Arnwine also finished in double figures with 10 points as the Pioneers were 27-for-54 from the field overall and 7-for-19 from three-point range in the game.
Emily Griffith led Lincoln Memorial with 14 points and six rebounds and Lindsay Proffitt had 11 points off the bench, but LMU could not take advantage of 20 offensive rebounds as they converted the misses into just 15 points. Tusculum had 22 points off Lincoln Memorial's 17 turnovers in avenging a one-point loss to the Railsplitters on the road in January.
Both teams struggled shooting from the field in the first quarter, as Tusculum was 3-for-12 overall and 1-for-6 from three-point range, while LMU was 3-for-16 overall and missed both its attempts from long range. Tusculum led 7-4 after a Cupidan three-pointer with 6:10 left in the quarter, but missed its final seven shots and turned the ball over five times the remainder of the period. A layup by LMU's Shermeria Quarles with 3:32 left would be the final points of the quarter for either team.
After the Railsplitters scored on their first possession of the second quarter, the Pioneers scored seven consecutive points including two field goals by Duke and a three-pointer by Long to go up 14-9 with 7:08 left in the first half. However, the Railsplitters would go on a 10-2 run to go ahead 19-16 on a layup by Emily Griffith with 4:51 remaining in the second period. LMU would lead by as many as five points before taking a 26-23 lead into the half on a putback at the buzzer by Jordan Maney.
Emily Griffith led the Railsplitters with eight points and three rebounds in the first half, as LMU shot 36.7 percent (11-for-30) from the field but just 2-for-8 at the foul line. Long led the Pioneers with seven points and Jasmine Williams and Cupidan had five points apiece. Tusculum shot 10-for-28 (35.7 percent) from the floor in the first half and turned the ball over 11 times.
A jumper by Dasia Maxwell early in the third quarter gave the Railsplitters their largest lead of the game at 30-23, but the Pioneers went on a 16-4 run over the next 5 1/2 minutes to go on top 39-34 following back-to-back three-pointers from Arnwine and Callie Patterson. A three-pointer by Cupidan at the end of the third quarter gave Tusculum a 46-39 advantage heading to the fourth as the Pioneers outscored the Railsplitters 23-13 in the third.
Tusculum's lead reached double figures as a layup by Duke gave Tusculum a 50-39 lead with 8:06 to go. Duke scored 10 of her 14 points in the fourth quarter, while Long added seven points as LMU would get no closer than 58-51 with 3:58 to go. The Pioneers put the game away from the foul line, making five of their six attempts in the final minute.
Duke's five blocked shots surpassed her previous career high of four rejections set against King on Nov. 10. Lovely Locklear added four steals off the bench for the Pioneers and delivered three points, four rebounds and two assists in 22 minutes of playing time. Patterson added seven points in 11 minutes off the bench and Maddie Sutton had two points, two rebounds and a team-high three assists in just seven minutes of action.
Proffitt finished 3-for-5 from three-point range as she played 27 minutes in a reserve role for the Railsplitters. Quarles shared the team high of six rebounds with Emily Griffith and Cameryn DuBose, while Griffith had a game-high five steals and three assists in 38 minutes.
Tusculum will close its regular season on Saturday at 2 p.m. against Wingate at Pioneer Arena. The team will honor its senior members prior to the start of the game against the Bulldogs, who beat the Pioneers 73-67 at home on Jan. 19.