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Late free throws give Carson-Newman 73-71 win over Pioneers

Late free throws give Carson-Newman 73-71 win over Pioneers

JEFFERSON CITY, Tenn. --- Haris Price made two free throws with 18.8 seconds left and forced a turnover on the ensuing possession as Carson-Newman University edged Tusculum University 73-71 in South Atlantic Conference women's basketball action Wednesday night at Holt Fieldhouse.

Price and Tori Griffin scored 20 points apiece for the Eagles (20-6, 13-5 SAC), who trailed by as many as 11 points in the first half before taking the lead for good midway through the third quarter. Carson-Newman shot 12-for-22 (54.5 percent) from three-point range to overcome a 40-22 deficit in points in the paint to Tusculum.

The Pioneers (18-7, 10-7 SAC) saw their five-game winning streak come to an end despite a career-high tying 21 points from Yolizma Cupidan and 16 points by Kendrea Duke. Lovely Locklear added 11 points off the bench, but the Pioneers shot just 5-for-20 from three-point range and were outrebounded 35-26 by the Eagles.

Mia Long, who scored the 1,000th point of her collegiate career to open the scoring for Tusculum, missed the entire second half for precautionary reasons after colliding with Price late in the first half, and finished with just six points and two steals in 18 minutes. Duke, who was limited to four minutes in the first half due to early foul trouble, scored 11 of her 16 points in the second half and blocked three shots before fouling out with 14 seconds to go.

Tusculum trailed 70-66 with 2:07 left following a three-pointer by Griffin, but a layup by Duke cut the deficit to 70-68 with 1:42 remaining. After an offensive foul, Cupidan tied the game on a layup with 43 seconds to play. Price was fouled on a drive and hit both foul shots for a 72-70 Eagle lead with 18.8 seconds left.

On the ensuing inbounds pass, Price went to the ground and drew an offensive foul, turning the ball back over to the Eagles. Sydney Pearce hit one free throw with 14 seconds left to extend the Carson-Newman lead to 73-70, and the Pioneers missed on a three-point attempt in the final seconds. However, Cupidan was fouled on the rebound with 0.5 seconds on the clock and made the first of two free throws. She missed the second intentionally, but Pearce grabbed the rebound as time expired.

Four players finished in double figures for Carson-Newman, with Kayla Marosites recording a double-double with 11 points and 10 rebounds and Briana Smith adding 10 points. Griffin shot 7-for-9 from the field and hit 4-for-5 from long range in 31 minutes off the Eagle bench.

Tusculum scored the game's first four points on a steal and layup by Long, followed by two free throws by Cupidan. A 9-0 run gave the Pioneers their largest lead at 19-8 on a basket by Cupidan with 4:16 left in the first quarter, and the advantage was 26-18 for the Pioneers heading to the second quarter on the strength of 64.3 percent shooting (9-for-14) from the field, including 3-for-5 from three-point range.

A three-pointer by the Eagles' Addison Byrd capped an 8-2 run to start the second quarter, and brought Carson-Newman within 28-26 with 8:03 to go in the half. A three-pointer by Locklear would push the Pioneers out to a 39-31 lead with 2:17 to go in the half, but Price scored the final four points of the half to cut the Tusculum lead to 39-37 at intermission.

The Pioneers shot 48.4 percent (15-for-31) from the field in the first half, hitting four three-pointers in 11 attempts. Cupidan and Jalia Arnwine shared the team high with eight points while Locklear had seven points in 11 minutes off the Pioneer bench. The Eagles shot 45.2 percent (14-for-31) from the floor in the first half, with Marosites leading the way with nine points and five rebounds and Price adding eight.

Carson-Newman gained the lead in the third quarter as Tusculum shot just 5-for-15 in the period and missed all five of its three-point attempts. A bucket by Marosites tied the game at 39-39 in the first minute of the third quarter, and a three-pointer from Price put the Eagles up 44-43 with 6:50 to go in the period. Carson-Newman would lead by as many as six points at 54-48 on a Griffin three-pointer in the final minute of the quarter, and the Eagles held a 54-50 advantage heading to the final 10 minutes.

A basket by Jasmine Williams and a layup by Cupidan tied the game at 54-54 with 8:26 left, but a Pearce layup followed by a Price three-pointer gave the Eagles a 59-54 lead with 6:22 left. Cupidan responded with five straight points on a three-pointer and a layup to re-tie the game at 59-59 with 5:32 to go, only to see the Eagles respond with five consecutive points of their own to go up 64-59 with 4:07 left.

Duke would score the next nine points for the Pioneers, including a three-point play with 3:54 to go which cut the Eagles' lead to 64-62 and set up the finish.

Long's six points pushed her collegiate career point total to 1,004, which includes 419 points she scored as a freshman at Concordia (Michigan) to go along with 585 points in two seasons at Tusculum. Her two steals brought her season total to 99, leaving her one shy of becoming the third player in program history to record 100 steals in a season and 10 away from tying the single-season school record of 109 set by Mitzi Alexander in 1991-92.

For the game, Tusculum forced Carson-Newman into 19 turnovers while committing just 11 of their own. The Pioneers scored 20 points off the Eagles' turnovers, but Carson-Newman outscored Tusculum 24-19 on fast breaks. The Eagles shot 11-for-16 at the foul line while Tusculum was 10-for-15 at the stripe.

The Pioneers will play their final road game of the regular season on Saturday at 2 p.m. at Coker. Tusculum defeated Coker 71-57 at home in the first meeting of the year on Jan. 12.

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