GREENEVILLE, Tenn. --- A fourth-quarter surge boosted Tusculum University to an 84-57 win over Milligan College in women's basketball exhibition action at Pioneer Arena Saturday afternoon.
Mia Long scored a game-high 20 points and had eight steals for the Pioneers, who scored 17 straight points as part of a 29-2 run after the Buffaloes had pulled within a point late in the third quarter. Tusculum outscored Milligan 28-5 in the fourth quarter, holding the Buffs to 2-for-10 shooting from the field while forcing 11 turnovers.
The Pioneers shot 39.3 percent (33-for-84) from the field, but had 23 offensive rebounds as part of their 56-40 advantage on the glass. Tusculum came up with 24 steals off 31 Milligan turnovers, converting the miscues into 36 points.
Long shot 8-for-12 from the field and 4-for-6 from the foul line, and was joined in double figures by Maddie Sutton off the bench, who had 10 points, nine rebounds, three assists and five steals in 18 minutes.
Sarah Robinson led Milligan with 18 points and Emma Kate Brown added 11 points and five rebounds. The Buffaloes shot 35.8 percent (19-for-53) from the field and trailed for all but 37 seconds against the Pioneers.
Tusculum scored the first six points of the game on a pair of baskets by Yolizma Cupidan followed by a steal and layup by Long. Milligan came back to tie the game at 8-8 on a jumper by Robinson with 6:11 left int he first quarter, but another layup by Cupidan put the Pioneers up for good at 10-8. The Buffs were held without a field goal for the final 3:43 of the quarter, missing their final four shot attempts. while going 3-for-6 at the foul line.
Tusculum carried a 19-15 lead into the second quarter, which expanded to 31-19 on a 7-0 run that featured a three-pointer by Sydney Wilson, a jumper by Callie Patterson and layup by Katelyn Weems. The Pioneer lead grew to 41-27 on a layup by Marta Rodrigues with 2:27 left in the half, but three consecutive three-pointers by the Buffaloes, including two by Brown, quickly cut the margin to 41-36 with 1:07 left in the half. Tusculum would go into the locker room leading 44-36 after Lovely Locklear sank a three-pointer with 34 seconds to play.
Long led the Pioneers with 11 points and four steals in the first half, as Tusculum forced Milligan into 16 turnovers which it converted into 18 points. The Buffaloes, who had 14 fast-break points in the first half, shot 44 percent (11-for-25) and were led by Brown with 11 points and Robinson with 10.
Tusculum led 48-38 after a basket by Cupidan with 8:47 to go in the third quarter, but Milligan scored eight straight points while the Pioneers missed nine consecutive shots from the floor. A three-pointer by Andi Lamb brought the Buffaloes within 48-46 with 3:42 left in the quarter, but back-to-back layups by Rodrigues restored a six-point lead for Tusculum at 52-46.
The Pioneers led 53-46 with two minutes left in the quarter, but layups by Lamb and Robinson and two free throws by Lamb pulled the Buffaloes back to within 53-52 with 31 seconds left in the quarter. A three-pointer with two seconds left by Patterson would trigger the decisive run for Tusculum, which took a 56-52 lead into the fourth quarter.
The Tusculum lead grew quickly in the fourth quarter as Milligan missed five straight shots and turned the ball over five times in the first 3 1/2 minutes of the quarter. A pair of three-pointers by Sutton along with five points from Long enabled the Pioneers to reel off 17 straight points and go on top 70-52 with 6:28 left.
A layup by Robinson broke the Milligan drought with 6:11 to go, but the Pioneers with 12 more points in a row including another three-pointer from Sutton and baskets by Weems and Rodrigues. Milligan's only other field goal in the fourth quarter came on a three-pointer by Kasey Gordon with 48 seconds left.
Cupidan had nine points, six rebounds, three assists and four steals in 26 minutes for the Pioneers, while Rodrigues added eight points, two rebounds, two assists and a pair of steals in 16 minutes off the bench. Also off the Tusculum bench, Jasmine Williams tallied four points, eight rebounds and a blocked shot in 15 minutes, while Weems notched seven points and four boards in 13 minutes.
More balance came from Patterson, who delivered seven points and five rebounds, along with Jalia Arnwine who chipped in with seven points in 21 minutes off the bench. Wilson finished with just six points as she battled foul trouble, while Locklear was active with six points and three rebounds. Mya Belton contributed on the boards for Tusculum with five rebounds in seven minutes.
For Milligan, Kaely Gose was 4-for-9 from the field and had nine points and a team-high seven rebounds, with Cassidy Anderson dishing out a game-high four assists. Lamb finished with seven points in 24 minutes, and Mackenzie Raizor finished with two points and five rebounds for the Buffs.
Both teams struggled from the foul line, with Tusculum going 11-for-21 (52.4 percent) from the stripe and Milligan at 56.5 percent (13-for-23). Tusculum shot 7-for-27 from three-point range, led by Sutton's 3-for-6 performance, while Milligan was 6-for-21 as a team led by Brown at 2-for-3.
The Pioneers will open the 2018-19 season with two games at Belmont Abbey as part of the South Atlantic Conference/Conference Carolinas Challenge. Tusculum will play the host Crusaders on Friday, Nov. 9 at 7:30 p.m. followed by King on Saturday, Nov. 10 at 5 p.m. in Belmont, North Carolina. The Pioneers will play their home opener against Virginia State on Monday, Nov. 19 at 5:30 p.m. at Pioneer Arena.