Lenoir-Rhyne picks up 61-33 victory over Tusculum women

HICKORY, N.C. — Brooke Robinson scored 16 points and had six rebounds as Lenoir-Rhyne University defeated Tusculum College 61-33 in South Atlantic Conference women’s basketball action Wednesday night at Shuford Memorial Gymnasium.

Madi Suddreth added 13 points and four rebounds for the Bears (5-3, 2-2 SAC), who held the Pioneers to 13 points in the second half and limited Tusculum to 23.4 percent shooting from the field in the game. The Bears outrebounded the Pioneers by a 45-28 margin, including 13 offensive boards.

Kasey Johnson, making her first appearance of the season for the Pioneers (1-7, 0-4 SAC), came off the bench to register team highs of seven points and five rebounds in 33 minutes of playing time. However, the Pioneers went just 2-for-11 from three-point range and hit just nine of their 22 free-throw attempts in suffering their sixth consecutive loss. The 33 points marked the first time that Tusculum was held under 40 points since a 57-34 loss at Winston-Salem State on Dec. 3, 2012.

The Pioneers took their only lead of the game at 5-4 on a three-pointer by Regan Croff two minutes into the first quarter. However, the Bears answered with seven consecutive points to go on top 11-5 following a steal and layup by Kendall Toineeta with 3:04 remaining in the period. A Suddreth jumper with 11 seconds left pushed the Lenoir-Rhyne lead to double figures at 18-8, but two free throws from Maelyn Head cut the margin to 18-10 after one period.

After the Bears went up 12 points early in the second quarter, the Pioneers pulled within 22-14 on two free throws by Johnson with 7:03 left in the half. Another foul shot from Head trimmed the Tusculum deficit to 23-17 with 3:57 to play in the half, but five straight points from the Bears put the advantage back to 28-17 with 1:05 left. Sydney Wilson closed out the first-half scoring with a three-pointer as Tusculum trailed 28-20 at the break.

Robinson and Suddreth shared the team high in scoring in the first half for Lenoir-Rhyne with eight points apiece, as the Bears shot 12-for-26 (46.2 percent) from the field. Johnson was the leading scorer in the first half for the Pioneers with four points, but eight different players reached the scoring column for Tusculum in the half.

Lenoir-Rhyne increased its lead to 40-27 with 4:36 left in the third quarter, then scored the final six points of the quarter as Tusculum was held without a field goal for the final 6:40 of the period. In the fourth quarter, the Pioneers were limited to two field goals as the Bears built their lead to as many as 29 points despite substituting liberally in the closing minutes.

Morgan Depew had five points, four rebounds and three steals in 22 minutes off the bench for the Pioneers, whose bench outscored the Bears’ reserves by a 21-16 margin. Lenoir-Rhyne had a 24-8 in points in the paint and turned 20 Tusculum turnovers into 18 points.

Tusculum will close out the 2016 portion of its home schedule when the Pioneers host Coker on Saturday at 2 p.m. at Pioneer Arena.

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