Fagan scores 21, Pioneer rally comes up short in Senior Day loss to Newberry

Cory Fagan scored 21 points, including five 3-pointers against Newberry (photo by Chuck Williams)
Cory Fagan scored 21 points, including five 3-pointers against Newberry (photo by Chuck Williams)

GREENEVILLE, Tenn. --- Newberry jumped out to a 30-point lead, but had to hold off a furious rally at the end as the Wolves defeated host Tusculum 99-88 Saturday afternoon at Pioneer Arena on Senior Day.

Newberry (16-10, 11-9 South Atlantic Conference) placed six players in double figures as the Wolves swept the season series over the Pioneers (11-15, 8-12 SAC).  Mason Spease led Newberry with 18 points, while the duo of James Stepp and Gerald Evans added 15 markers apiece.  D.J. Copeland totaled 12 points, while Xavier Hill and Marshall Lange finished with 11 and 10 points, respectively.

Tusculum senior Cory Fagan led all scorers with 21 points as he shot 7-of-10 from the floor, including 5-of-7 from three-point territory. Eighteen of Fagan's 21 points came in the second half.

TC senior Chase Mounce connected on his first seven field goal attempts and finished the game with 16 points on 7-of-8 shooting.  Ronnie Baylark contributed 13 points and a season-best nine assists, while senior Zach Davis scored 11 points in the loss.

Newberry used a 13-0 run over a span of 3:19 in the first half to take a 35-18 lead following an Evans layup at the 7:32 mark of the period.  Tusculum responded with a 10-2 spurt to trim the deficit to single digits at 37-28 with 4:50 left before halftime.  The Wolves closed out the half with a 9-5 run to take a 46-33 lead heading to the locker room.

In the second half with Newberry leading by 14 (51-37), the Wolves went on a 25-9 run over a span covering 5:21 to take their largest lead of the afternoon at 76-46 with 11:51 remaining.

The Pioneers chipped away at the deficit cutting the Newberry lead to 20 points on four occasions over the next seven minutes.  The Wolves led 90-67 following a Spease three-pointer with 4:43 left in the game.  Tusculum mounted a sizzling rally as the Black and Orange went on an 18-2 run, sparked by 11 points from Fagan, including three 3-pointers as the Pioneers trailed 92-85 with 1:23 left on the clock.

The Wolves pushed the lead back out to 12 (85-97) with five unanswered points, all coming at the free throw line.  Fagan drained his fifth trifecta of the day to cut the deficit back to nine at 97-88 with 23 seconds to go, but that would be as close as the Pioneers would get.

The two teams each shot over 50 percent from the floor as Newberry went 36-of-68 for 52.9 percent, including 12-of-31 (38.7%) from three-point land.  Tusculum shot 33-of-64 for 51.6 percent, but only made seven of their 23 long range attempts for 30.4 percent from downtown.

Tusculum out-scored the Wolves 50-46 in the pain, while Newberry out-rebounded the Pioneers 37-32 with Stepp leading the way with his game-high eight boards.  TC recorded 26 assists on its 33 made field goals, while Newberry had 20 helpers on its 36 buckets.

On Saturday, Fagan became only the fourth player in program history to record 200 three-point field goals in his respective career (202).  He also extends his remarkable run to 42 consecutive games with a three-pointer.

Mounce continued his assault on the Tusculum scoring list as his 16-point performance gives him 1,250 points which are the 13th most in program history as he moves past former All-Region standout Jeremy Fortner (1,248 from 1996-2000).

Senior guard Kendall Patterson, who scored his 1,000th collegiate point on Wednesday (vs Carson-Newman), finished the game with seven points and dished out seven assists for a second straight game.  He also posted five rebounds and added three steals.

Tusculum senior Vincent Brown earned his first TC start as he logged career-highs with four steals in his 28 minutes of action.

Mounce, Fagan, Davis, Patterson and Brown were honored in pre-game ceremonies.  The senior quintet will play in their final home game on Wednesday when Tusculum hosts cross-mountain rival Mars Hill for an 8 p.m. contest.  The Pioneers won 101-92 in overtime over the Lions in last month's meeting.