GREENEVILLE, Tenn. --- Sydney Wilson scored a game-high 27 points, including 21 in the second half, as Tusculum University pulled away after halftime for a 73-59 victory over Lincoln Memorial University in South Atlantic Conference women's basketball action Wednesday evening at Pioneer Arena.
Jalia Arnwine added 17 points and matched Wilson with five three-pointers for the Pioneers (14-3, 9-2 SAC), who won their season-high fifth straight game and moved into a tie for second place in the conference with Anderson at the midpoint of the SAC schedule. Kasey Johnson and Maddie Sutton each recorded their third double-double of the season for Tusculum, with Johnson registering 11 points and 11 rebounds and Sutton adding 10 points and 11 boards.
Sydney Newsome led the Railsplitters (6-9, 5-6 SAC) with 22 points and nine rebounds, but Lincoln Memorial was outscored by 12 points in the second half after trailing 26-24 at halftime. Lauren Flowers contributed 14 points for the Railsplitters, who shot 43.1 percent (22-for-51) from the field as a team but were outrebounded 42-26 by the Pioneers.
Wilson shot 9-for-17 from the field and 5-for-11 from three-point range to finish one shy of her career high of 28 points set against UVa-Wise on Dec. 18. Arnwine made a career-high five three-pointers and finished two points shy of equaling her career high of 19 points set twice this season. Tusculum shot 39.3 percent (24-for-61) from the field but drilled 11 three-pointers as a team, including 8-for-16 in the second half. The Pioneers had 16 offensive rebounds as a team which they turned into 14 second-chance points, and also scored 21 points off 20 LMU turnovers.
Lincoln Memorial jumped to an early 9-4 lead behind five points from Newsome, but a putback by Sutton and a four-point play by Wilson were part of an 11-0 run that gave the Pioneers a 15-9 lead with 2:45 left in the first quarter. Neither team scored for the final two minutes of the quarter as Tusculum carried a 15-11 lead into the second period.
The Tusculum scoring drought extended into the first four minutes of the second quarter, as Lincoln Memorial ran off seven straight points to go ahead 17-15 on a layup by Flowers with 6:27 left in the half. A three-pointer by Arnwine would give Tusculum the lead for good at 18-17, and the Pioneers would lead by as many as five points before taking a 26-24 lead into halftime.
Wilson and Arnwine shared the scoring lead for Tusculum in the first half with six points apiece, while Johnson and Sutton scored four points each as the Pioneers shot just 33.3 percent (9-for-27) from the field and 3-for-15 from three-point range in the half. Newsome led the Railsplitters with five points and five rebounds as LMU shot slightly better at 36.0 percent (9-for-25) in the half. Tusculum outrebounded LMU 19-14 in the first half, but the Pioneers committed 10 turnovers in the opening 20 minutes.
Tusculum came out in the third quarter and hit its first four shots from the field as part of a 12-2 run, with back-to-back three-pointers from Arnwine and Wilson giving the Pioneers a 38-26 lead with 7:26 left in the third quarter. Lincoln Memorial answered with nine straight points to cut the deficit to 38-35 on a three-point play by Newsome with 4:31 left in the third quarter. Two foul shots from Arnwine and another three by Wilson extended the Pioneers' lead to 45-37 with 2:23 to go in the quarter, and Wilson capped a nine-point quarter with her third three of the period as the Pioneers went up 48-40 entering the fourth quarter.
In the fourth quarter, Lincoln Memorial would get no closer than eight points as a three-pointer from Johnson and two free throws by Wilson left the Pioneers holding a 60-49 lead with 3:40 to go. Wilson and Arnwine would each hit their fifth three-pointers of the evening around the two-minute mark to boost Tusculum's lead to 70-57, and two free throws from Johnson with 46.6 seconds left would give the Pioneers their largest lead of the night and set the final score. LMU went scoreless for the final 1:19 and missed its final three shot attempts in a last-ditch rally attempt.
Mia Long was held to just four points in 29 minutes for the Pioneers, but had a team-high five assists along with four steals. Off the bench, Jasmine Williams had two points, five rebounds and a pair of blocked shots in 11 minutes. For LMU, Shermeria Quarles was the top scorer off the bench with six points in 17 minutes, with three points and five rebounds from Kyndall Caudle.
Tusculum will begin the second half of conference play at Catawba on Saturday at 2 p.m. The nationally-ranked Indians took over sole possession of first place in the SAC at 10-1 (15-1 overall) with a 70-58 homecourt win over Anderson on Wednesday night. The Indians beat the Pioneers 78-71 at Pioneer Arena on Nov. 30 in the first meeting of the season between the teams.