Pioneer defense stifles Coker in 59-35 win

Pioneer defense stifles Coker in 59-35 win

HARTSVILLE, S.C. --- Callie Patterson scored 16 of her game-high 18 points in the second half as Tusculum University pulled away for a 59-35 victory over Coker College in a South Atlantic Conference women's basketball game at the DeLoach Center Saturday afternoon.

Patterson went 4-for-5 from three-point range, including the 100th of her career, as the Pioneers (19-7, 11-7 SAC) remained a game ahead of Lincoln Memorial for fourth place in the South Atlantic Conference standings with two games remaining in the regular season.

Tusculum, which is ranked sixth in the NCAA Division II Southeast Region rankings, improved to 5-1 in February by shooting 50 percent (19-for-38) from the field and 8-for-13 from three-point range, while holding their third opponent in the last six games to 35 points or fewer.

Saquita Joyner was the lone player to reach double figures for the Cobras (5-22, 4-15 SAC) with 10 points and seven rebounds. Coker shot 24.5 percent (13-for-53) from the field and went 2-for-23 from three-point range against the number-one scoring defense in the SAC, missing their final 19 attempts from beyond the arc after making two in the first six minutes.

Yolizma Cupidan reached double figures for the 11th consecutive game for the Pioneers, scoring 11 points, and Maddie Sutton added a season-high 10 points off the bench as Tusculum outscored Coker 30-13 spanning the second and third quarters and shot 58.8 percent (10-for-17) from the field in the second half.

Patterson hit three of her four three-pointers during an 11-point outburst in the third quarter, and in the process became the ninth player in program history to surpass 100 career three-pointers. She currently stands at 102 three-pointers for her career, six away from tying all-time leading scorer Susan Starnes for eighth place on the program all-time list.

Tusculum took an early 3-0 lead as Jasmine Williams connected for a three-pointer on the opening possession of the game. Coker missed its first five shots from the field until Shay Jackson sank a three-pointer to cut Tusculum's lead to 5-3 with 6:40 left in the opening quarter. Back-to-back layups from Kendrea Duke gave the Pioneers a 9-3 lead, but Tusculum would go scoreless for more than five minutes as the Cobras scored seven straight to grab a 10-9 advantage. A layup by Sutton late in the first quarter broke the Pioneers' drought and gave Tusculum an 11-10 lead after one period.

Coker regained the lead at 12-11 on a basket by Erin Houser early in the second quarter, but a Cupidan layup sparked a 10-2 Pioneer run that included back-to-back three-pointers from Sutton as Tusculum went up 21-14 with 4:33 to go in the first half. Coker went without a field goal for the final 5:24 of the quarter as the Pioneers carried a 25-17 lead into halftime.

Sutton led the Pioneers with eight points and Duke added six as Tusculum shot 42.9 percent (9-for-21) from the field and 3-for-7 from three-point range in the opening half. Coker hit just 2-of-15 from the field in the second quarter and connected on 6-for-26 (23.1 percent) overall. Jackson led the Cobras with five points in the first half.

Coker cut the Tusculum lead to 28-22 on a three-point play by Houser with 5:32 left in the third quarter, but a layup by Lovely Locklear and Patterson's 100th career three-pointer pushed the Pioneer lead to double figures at 33-22 with 3:16 remaining in the period. Patterson then hit back-to-back three-pointers and added two foul shots near the end of the third quarter as Tusculum finished on a 13-1 run to take a 41-23 lead into the fourth.

The Tusculum lead would reach 20 points at 53-33 on another three-pointer by Patterson with 1:47 left, and the Pioneer defense held the Cobras to one field goal in the final 3 1/2 minutes. Tusculum attempted just seven shots in the fourth quarter due in part to seven turnovers and no offensive rebounds, but the Pioneers were 7-for-11 from the foul line down the stretch.

Williams finished with seven points and five rebounds for the Pioneers, while Duke had six points and a team-high seven boards in 27 minutes. Cupidan, who had played 425 of a possible 445 minutes over the Pioneers' last 11 conference games, saw just 24 minutes of action against Coker and shot 4-for-5 from the field.

Sutton was 4-for-4 from the field, including her two three-pointers in the second quarter, and came within a point of her career high of 11 points set against Coker on Dec. 13, 2017. Tusculum's bench combined for 32 points in the game, nearly matching the output of the entire Cobras team.

Houser had nine points and four rebounds for the Cobras, who turned the ball over 21 times which led to 20 Tusculum points. The Pioneers, who average just 14.7 turnovers per game, lost the ball 22 times to the Cobras who converted the miscues into 14 points. Coker outrebounded Tusculum 31-25 in the game, including 12 offensive rebounds to three by the Pioneers.

Tusculum hosts Lincoln Memorial on Wednesday at 6 p.m. at Pioneer Arena. The Railsplitters used two free throws in the final seconds to edge the Pioneers 76-75 on their home court at Tex Turner Arena on Jan. 23.