JEFFERSON CITY, Tenn. --- Sydney Wilson scored all of her 17 points in the second half, including the 1,000th of her career and the go-ahead basket in the final minute, as Tusculum University rallied in the fourth quarter to defeat Carson-Newman University 71-66 in South Atlantic Conference women's basketball action Wednesday night at Holt Fieldhouse.
Jalia Arnwine tied her career high with four three-pointers and matched Wilson for the team lead with 17 points for the Pioneers (12-3, 7-2 SAC), who won their third straight overall and improved to 5-0 on the road in conference games. The win snapped a six-game losing streak by the Pioneers to the Eagles and was just the fifth conference win for Tusculum in 21 all-time visits to Holt Fieldhouse. Tusculum is ranked fifth in this week's D2SIDA Southeast Region poll while Carson-Newman was ranked seventh in the latest survey.
Kayla Marosites led the Eagles (10-5, 6-3 SAC) with a game-high 21 points and nine rebounds and Braelyn Wykle added 18 points, but Carson-Newman shot just 37.9 percent (22-for-58) from the field and was held 18 points under its season average of 83.9 points per game in seeing its five-game winning streak come to an end. The Eagles turned the ball over 22 times for the game and shot 30.8 percent in the fourth quarter, as the Pioneers erased a five-point deficit in the final four minutes by holding the Eagles without a field goal for the final 5:07.
Wilson's first basket of the game came midway through the third quarter and allowed her to become the 18th player in program history to score 1,000 career points. After missing her first eight shots, Wilson went 7-for-12 from the field and added four rebounds and four assists in 31 minutes after missing the previous two contests.
Arnwine, who played a season-high 38 minutes, was 5-for-9 from the floor and 4-for-7 from three-point range and hit three free throws in the final minute as Tusculum outscored Carson-Newman 7-1 in the final 40 seconds to improve to 8-1 away from Pioneer Arena for the first time since the 1994-95 season.
After trailing 61-56 with five minutes left, Tusculum cut the Carson-Newman lead to 61-60 on a layup by Wilson with 3:37 to go, and Maddie Sutton tied the game on a free throw with 3:15 left. Two free throws from Harli Smith restored the Eagles' lead at 65-63 with 2:39 remaining. Arnwine gave Tusculum its first lead since the second quarter at 64-63 on a three-pointer with 1:11 to go, but Marosites hit two free throws with 56.3 seconds left to put the Eagles back ahead 65-64.
Wilson hit a driving layup with 37.8 seconds to go as Tusculum regained the lead at 66-65, and Marosites missed at the other end with 22.9 seconds to go. Arnwine hit two free throws with 20.9 seconds to go to extend Tusculum's lead to 68-65. Wykle was fouled and went to the line with 16.8 seconds left, but made only one of two as Tusculum led 68-66. Kasey Johnson went to the line for Tusculum with 15.0 left and made a pair for a 70-66 Pioneer lead, and a steal by Tusculum led to one free throw from Arnwine with 9.4 seconds left. Another steal in the backcourt allowed the Pioneers to run out the clock.
The Pioneers spread out their offense in the opening quarter, with all five starters in the scoring column by the midway point of the period. Three-pointers by Arnwine and Aliyah Miller helped Tusculum to a 16-11 lead with 3:56 left in the first quarter. Mia Long nailed a three to extend Tusculum's lead to 20-13 with 1:59 remaining in the period, and the Pioneers carried a 20-16 lead into the second quarter. Long led Tusculum with six points in the first quarter while Wykle had a team-high seven points for the Eagles.
Carson-Newman came back to tie the game at 21-21 on a three-pointer by Wykle with 6:28 left in the first half, and took its first lead at 26-23 on a three-pointer by Marosites with 3:19 to go in the half. Another three-pointer from Marosites pushed the Eagles ahead 29-23 with 2:44 remaining, and the run reached 12-0 before the Pioneers snapped a five-minute scoring drought on a jumper by Mya Belton with just under a minute left in the half.
The Pioneers shot 2-for-16 from the field in the second quarter and were outscored 17-5 in the period as the Eagles led 33-25 at halftime. Tusculum shot 28.6 percent (10-for-35) from the field, including 3-for-16 from three-point range, and while Carson-Newman shot 40 percent (12-for-30) in the half and went 5-for-18 from long range. Long led the Pioneers with eight points in the first half, while Marosites led all players with 12 points and Wykle added 10.
Tusculum opened the second half with a three-pointer from Arnwine and a fast-break layup by Long, but Carson-Newman came back to take a 41-32 lead on a basket by Wykle with 6:04 left in the third quarter. Wilson then hit a layup with 5:02 left in the quarter to reach the 1,000-point milestone, and followed up moments later with a three-pointer as Tusculum cut the deficit to 41-37 with 4:23 left in the period. The Pioneers crept within 46-43 on a three-pointer from Jasmine Williams with 2:25 to go in the quarter, and another three from Arnwine pulled Tusculum to within 51-48 heading to the final period.
Wilson, who had eight points in the third quarter after being held scoreless in the first half, hit a three-pointer on the first possession of the fourth quarter to tie the game at 51-51, but the Eagles scored seven of the next nine points to go ahead 58-53 on a layup by Smith with 7:31 remaining. Tusculum pulled within 58-56 on a three-point play by Johnson with 7:19 to go, but a three-point play from the Eagles' Qua Hines made it 61-56 with 5:07 left.
Tusculum shot 39.4 percent (26-for-66) from the field in the game, and went 9-for-31 from three-point range. Long joined Arnwine and Wilson in double figures for the Pioneers with 10 points to go along with four rebounds, five assists and four steals. Williams paced Tusculum on the glass with eight rebounds, with six from Johnson to go along with nine points. Sutton had eight rebounds and five points for the Pioneers, who were outrebounded by the Eagles by a slim 40-39 margin.
For Carson-Newman, Smith reached double figures with 12 points and six rebounds, but the rest of the team outside of Wykle and Marosites combined to score 15 points on 4-for-24 shooting from the field. Addison Byrd had six points and nine rebounds in 21 minutes off the bench for the Eagles, but Tusculum's bench finished the game with a 27-15 edge in bench scoring.
Tusculum, which is in sole possession of third place in the SAC and a game behind co-leaders Catawba and Anderson, will return to Pioneer Arena to host Wingate on Saturday at 2 p.m. The Bulldogs (11-5), who lost to Newberry 65-54 on Wednesday, are ranked eighth in the Southeast Region and are tied for fifth place in the conference with Newberry and Lincoln Memorial at 5-4.