GREENEVILLE, Tenn. --- Kasey Johnson, Mia Long and Kendrea Duke each scored 17 points as Tusculum defeated Newberry 72-65 in South Atlantic Conference women's basketball action Saturday afternoon at Pioneer Arena.
The Pioneers (11-4, 6-3 SAC) snapped a seven-game losing streak to the Wolves (9-7, 4-5 SAC) by forcing 23 turnovers and shooting 27-for-35 from the foul line, including 19-for-23 in the second half. Johnson was a perfect 10-for-10 at the line while Duke was 9-for-11 at the stripe for Tusculum, which shot 39.6 percent (21-for-53) from the field and 3-for-14 from three-point range in the game.
Shelby Britten scored 15 of her game-high 22 points in the fourth quarter to lead Newberry, while Meg Essex posted a double-double with 20 points and 11 rebounds. The Wolves shot 56.1 percent (23-for-41) from the field and 15-for-20 at the foul line, but allowed Tusculum to score 27 points off turnovers. Newberry had a 30-27 advantage in rebounding, but had just four offensive boards in the game.
Duke scored 15 of her 17 points in the second half, including eight in the fourth quarter as Tusculum held onto a lead that it took late in the third quarter after trailing by as many as six points. Johnson also had a team-high seven rebounds to go along with her 17 points, while Long had six steals, four rebounds and four assists while committing just one turnover in 35 minutes. The victory was the first for the Pioneers over the Wolves since Jan. 3, 2014 when Tusculum defeated Newberry 71-56.
After the teams played to a 6-6 tie midway through the first quarter, the Pioneers scored six straight points on two free throws by Duke, a layup by Yolizma Cupidan and a basket by Long to take a 12-6 lead with 1:39 left in the quarter. The Pioneers led 15-10 at the end of one quarter as the Wolves committed seven turnovers to offset 5-for-8 shooting from the field.
Tusculum led 20-15 after a free throw by Sydney Wilson with 6:54 to go in the first half, but a basket by Georgia Elliott-King, a layup from Essex and a free throw by Britten brought Newberry back to a 20-20 with 5:28 left in the half. The Pioneers answered with six consecutive points on a jumper and two free throws by Johnson and a basket by Callie Patterson to go back ahead 26-20 with 3:40 to go in the half. Tusculum would lead by as many as eight points following a three-pointer by Jasmine Williams with 1:18 to play in the half, and took a 32-28 advantage into halftime.
Long led all players with 10 points and four steals in the first half as the Pioneers led despite shooting 37.9 percent (11-for-29) from the field compared to 55.6 percent (10-for-18) for the Wolves. Essex paced Newberry with eight points and four rebounds in the half as the Wolves had a 17-13 edge in rebounding but committed 14 turnovers to four by the Pioneers.
Essex helped the Wolves open the third quarter with a 12-2 run as she scored eight points during the spurt to give Newberry its largest lead of the game at 40-34 with 6:09 left in the period. After a free throw by Kelsey McDermott gave the Wolves a 41-36 lead with 5:47 to go in the quarter, the Pioneers came back with an 11-2 run that featured a three-pointer from Johnson and five straight points from Duke which pushed the Pioneers to a 47-43 lead with 2:58 remaining in the quarter.
Tusculum led 49-47 heading into the fourth quarter, and went ahead 56-49 on a steal and layup by Cupidan with 6:15 remaining. A three-pointer from Britten and a foul shot by Regan McCarty helped the Wolves cut the deficit to 56-53 with 5:02 left, followed by an exchange of baskets from Tusculum's Lovely Locklear and Essex which kept the margin at three points (58-55) with 3:35 to play. Duke hit two free throws with 3:13 left, then hit a layup with 2:26 left for a 62-55 Tusculum lead. Two free throws from Johnson gave the Pioneers their largest lead at 64-55 with 1:32 to play, and the Pioneers went 8-for-10 from the foul line in the final 1:05 despite 10 points from Britten in that span.
Long, who shot 8-for-11 from the field, tied her season high set earlier this season against Converse and Bluefield State with her six steals. Locklear had three steals to go along with five points in 27 minutes off the bench for the Pioneers, while Cupidan finished with six points and four rebounds in 35 minutes. Tusculum's bench outscored the Newberry bench by a 29-11 margin in the victory, paced by Duke's 17.
Britten and Essex were the only two players to reach double figures for Newberry, which received six points from Courtney Lyons and five points and a game-high nine assists from McDermott. Newberry went 4-for-9 from three-point range in the game, with three of the baskets coming from Britten in the fourth quarter.
Tusculum will conclude its three-game homestand and closes out the first half of the conference schedule on Wednesday night when Anderson visits Pioneer Arena for a 6 p.m. tipoff.