GREENEVILLE, Tenn. --- A 20-0 second-quarter run and a 15-0 third-quarter surge propelled Tusculum University to a 77-57 victory over Wingate University in South Atlantic Conference women's basketball action Saturday afternoon at Pioneer Arena.
Mia Long led the Pioneers (13-3, 8-2 SAC) with 17 points, eight assists and six steals and Kasey Johnson added 13 points and a game-high 10 rebounds as Tusculum led 45-24 at halftime and by as many as 35 points in the third quarter en route to their fourth straight win. Jalia Arnwine reached double figures for the third straight game with 13 points, while the Pioneer defense limited the Bulldogs to 34.4 percent shooting (22-for-64) and forced 23 turnovers which Tusculum turned into 30 points.
Teliyah Jeter had team highs of 14 points, eight rebounds and five blocked shots for the Bulldogs (11-6, 5-5 SAC), who had won their last seven meetings with the Pioneers including a three-game sweep last season. Hannah Clark added 12 points and Elana Ingram contributed 10 points and six rebounds for Wingate, which shot a woeful 12-for-26 (46.2 percent) from the foul line and hit just one three-pointer in seven attempts.
Long scored 15 of her 17 points in the first half, including nine during the second quarter when the Pioneers held the Bulldogs scoreless for exactly seven minutes while turning a 23-18 lead into a 43-18 advantage. Wingate shot 2-for-10 from the field in the second quarter and 9-for-29 (31 percent) in the first half, while Tusculum's defense scored 24 points off 15 Bulldog turnovers.
Long's eight assists matched her season high set against Clayton State on Nov. 12, while her six steals equaled her season best set on three previous occasions. Long, who leads all active Division II players in steals per game at 3.33, has recorded at least two steals in 12 straight games and leads the SAC in steals per game at 3.8 per contest.
Tusculum never trailed in the game, jumping to a 4-0 lead as Arnwine scored the first four points for the Pioneers. The game was tied briefly on three occasions, the last time at 10-10 on a layup by Maeola Willis with 4:47 to go in the first quarter. Long then scored four straight points and Arnwine converted a three-point play to help the Pioneers build a 17-12 lead with 3:32 left in the quarter. A three-pointer by Elle Hutchinson extended the lead to 20-12 with 2:55 to go, and Johnson hit a jumper at the buzzer as the Pioneers led 23-16 after one quarter.
Wingate opened the second quarter scoring on a layup by Jasmine Stephen with 9:41 remaining in the half, but would not score again for exactly seven minutes as the Pioneers ran off 20 unanswered points. A three-pointer from Johnson sparked the run, during which Wingate turned the ball over on six consecutive possessions which led to 10 points for Tusculum. A layup by Hutchinson off a Long steal gave the Pioneers a 43-18 lead with 2:53 left in the half, before two free throws from Clark snapped the drought with 2:41 remaining.
Tusculum led 45-24 at halftime behind 15 points, four rebounds, five assists and four steals from Long and nine points and six rebounds from Johnson. Arnwine played just seven minutes due to foul trouble, but had eight points for the Pioneers as Tusculum shot 45.2 percent (14-for-31) from the field and 14-for-20 at the foul line. For Wingate, Jeter led with six points and four rebounds in the opening half.
The Pioneers followed up their first-half run with 15 straight points midway through the third quarter, as the Bulldogs went 0-for-6 from the field with four turnovers over a span of four minutes. Six different players scored during the Pioneers' run, which was capped by an Aliyah Miller three-pointer which gave Tusculum its largest lead at 65-30 with 4:32 left in the third quarter. A three-pointer from Brianna Dixon in the final minute of the quarter sent the Pioneers to the final period with a 69-38 lead.
Tusculum led 73-42 following two free throws from Jasmine Williams with 6:56 left, but Wingate was able to put a dent in the final margin as the Bulldogs' starters remained on the court against the deeper portion of the Pioneers' bench. Wingate outscored Tusculum 19-8 in the final quarter as the Pioneers committed nine of their 19 turnovers in the fourth.
Maddie Sutton contributed six points and eight rebounds in 30 minutes for the Pioneers, while Williams tallied three points, six rebounds and three blocked shots in 17 minutes off the bench. Miller chipped in with nine points and four rebounds in 12 minutes for the Pioneers, as the Tusculum bench outscored Wingate by a 24-13 margin. Daphney Saylor led the Wingate reserves with six points and four rebounds in 14 minutes.
Each team finished with 43 rebounds in the game, with Wingate pulling 20 offensive rebounds and scoring 11 second-chance points. Both the Pioneers and Bulldogs had 16 fast-break points, and Wingate outscored Tusculum 40-38 in the paint.
Tusculum will carry its four-game winning streak into Wednesday's game at Pioneer Arena against Lincoln Memorial, which closes out the first half of the 22-game SAC schedule. The Railsplitters are in a three-way tie for fifth place in the SAC at 5-5 with Wingate and Newberry, and LMU fell to 6-8 overall with a 67-49 loss at SAC co-leader Anderson on Saturday.