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Defense sparks Pioneers to 75-54 win over Newberry

Defense sparks Pioneers to 75-54 win over Newberry

GREENEVILLE, Tenn. --- Tusculum University forced 29 turnovers and placed four players in double figures in a 75-54 victory over 25th-ranked Newberry College in South Atlantic Conference women's basketball action Monday afternoon at Pioneer Arena.

Mia Long led the Pioneers (12-4, 5-4 SAC) with 19 points, seven rebounds, five assists and four steals and Jalia Arnwine matched her career high with 15 points as Tusculum snapped a two-game losing streak and dealt Newberry (11-5, 5-4 SAC) its fourth consecutive loss. The win was the first for Tusculum over a ranked opponent since a 65-62 victory over 25th-ranked Lenoir-Rhyne on Feb. 22, 2014.

Meg Essex led the Wolves with game highs of 24 points, 11 rebounds and four blocked shots as Newberry shot 45.5 percent (20-for-44) from the floor. However, the Pioneers scored 34 points off the 29 Wolves turnovers while limiting Newberry to four offensive rebounds as a team.

Yolizma Cupidan contributed 14 points, four rebounds, three assists and three steals for the Pioneers, while Kendrea Duke also reached double figures with 10 points in 21 minutes. Callie Patterson nearly gave Tusculum five players in double figures, finishing with eight points in 17 minutes. In addition to her 15 points, Arnwine also grabbed a career-high six rebounds and made three of the Pioneers' 14 steals.

Tusculum never trailed in the game, opening the scoring on a three-pointer by Arnwine with 8:16 left in the first quarter. The Wolves pulled into a 4-4 tie following two foul shots by Kelsey McDermott with 7:12 left in the quarter, but the Pioneers answered with a 10-0 run that included back-to-back three-pointers from Long and Patterson, the latter with 3:22 left in the quarter. Essex would score the final five points of the period, the last two on a basket with nine seconds remaining to cut the Tusculum lead to 16-11.

After Essex scored the first basket of the second quarter, the Pioneers ran off 12 consecutive points behind three-pointers from Cupidan and Patterson to go ahead 28-13 with 5:13 to go in the first half. However, the Wolves would hit four three-pointers as part of a 12-2 run, the last by McDermott to bring Newberry within 30-25 with 2:06 left in the half. Tusculum would miss its last five shots of the half, but carry a 32-27 lead into halftime.

Essex led all players with 11 points in the first half for Newberry, shooting 5-for-7 from the field and pulling five rebounds. Long paced Tusculum with 10 points and six rebounds in the first half, as the Pioneers shot 32.3 percent (10-for-31) from the field but 5-for-10 on three-pointers. Tusculum also forced Newberry into 14 turnovers in the opening half while committing just two, leading to a 17-0 scoring advantage in points off turnovers.

In the third quarter, Newberry would pull within four points on four separate occasions, the last at 42-38 with 2:36 left in the third quarter. From there, the Pioneers would run off seven points in a row as both Duke and Long hit a pair of free throws and Arnwine drilled a three-pointer for a 49-38 Tusculum lead with 59 seconds left in the quarter. The Pioneer advantage would be 51-42 entering the fourth quarter as Newberry's Essex and Tusculum's Duke each scored eight points in the third period.

Two free throws by Essex in the opening minute of the fourth quarter brought Newberry within 51-44, but another 7-0 run from Tusculum was capped by an Arnwine three-pointer as the Pioneers lead expanded to 58-44 with 8:07 left. The lead would grow to 67-49 on a Jasmine Williams layup with 3:26 left, and the Pioneers would score the final five points to end the game with their largest lead at 21 points.

Tusculum went 21-for-31 from the foul line in the game, but made just 6-of-14 in the fourth quarter. The Pioneers shot 8-for-17 from beyond the three-point line, with Arnwine hitting 3-for-5 and Patterson and Cupidan each going 2-for-3 from long range. Newberry was 6-for-17 on three-pointers in the game, and hit 8-for-10 from the foul line.

Regan McCarty joined Essex in double figures for the Wolves with 13 points on 3-for-4 from three-point range. McDermott added six points and five assists and Shelby Britten tallied five points and three assists in 34 minutes.

Tusculum will finish the first half of conference play on Wednesday with a trip to Lincoln Memorial for a 6 p.m. tipoff against the Railsplitters.

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