GREENSBORO, N.C. --- The Tusculum Pioneers bowled a 235 in the seventh and deciding game to knock off 15th-ranked Delaware State Sunday at the inaugural Vernell Stallings Invitational. With the victory, Tusculum claimed seventh place honors and after a 0-5 start to the weekend, TU bounced back by winning six of its last eight matches.
The Pioneers opened day with a 951-801 traditional scoring win over Prairie View A&M. TU freshman Raycine Mortensen led TU as she bowled a 232, while teammate Tacey Ballen added a 206 in the victory as TU completed the second round with a 5-1 record.
Tusculum opened championship bracket play against No. 17 Louisiana Tech and the Pioneers jumped out to an early 2-0 lead in the Baker Best of 7-Game Playoff format. TU won by scored of 199-186 and 180-170. The Lady Bulldogs answered with a 207-167 decision in the third game, but Tusculum won the fourth game 175-170. But Louisiana Tech rallied by winning the final three games including a 258-164 decision in the deciding game to win the match 4-3.
The Pioneers faced off against Delaware State in the seventh-place match and the Hornets won the first set 153-138. TU responded by winning the next three games by scores of 234-181, 183-166 and 164-163 to take a 3-1 lead in the match. DSU battled back to tie the match at 3-3. But unlike the La. Tech match, TU finished strong with a 235-170 decision to record its second victory over a nationally-ranked foe this weekend. It was also Tusculum's fourth win over a ranked opponent this fall as the Pioneers are playing in its inaugural campaign.
Mortensen finished the tournament with a 209.67 average, which was seventh in the tournament. Erin Burkart finished 13th with 204.33, while Ballen was 30th with 185.17.
Host North Carolina A&T claimed tournament honors, while Maryland Eastern Shore finished second. Mount St. Mary's was third, followed by UAB, Louisiana Tech, Prairie View A&M, Tusculum, Delaware State, Lincoln Memorial, Howard University, Texas Southern and Coppin State.
Tusculum (25-26) wraps up its fall season and returns to action Jan. 24-26 as they travel to the Saints Invitational in Missouri.