MARS HILL, N.C. — Tusculum’s Zach Davis connected on a pair of free throws with 0.4 seconds remaining in regulation to force overtime and scored the first four points of the extra period as the Pioneers won 101-92 at cross-mountain rival Mars Hill Wednesday night at Stanford Arena.
The Pioneers (7-7, 4-5 in South Atlantic Conference) record their fourth consecutive win at Mars Hill, while the Lions (3-12, 1-8 SAC) suffer their eighth consecutive loss. The game included 60 combined fouls resulting into 83 free throw attempts taken by the two teams, including 24 in overtime.
Mars Hill trailed by eight (68-60) with nine minutes left in regulation, utilizing an 18-6 run to take a 78-74 lead with 3:50 to go. Tusculum regained the advantage with five straight points, including a pair of Chase Mounce free throws with 1:46 remaining to go back on top, 79-78.
MHU’s Charles Moore scored on a layup 14 seconds later to retake the lead at 80-79 with 1:32 on the clock. Davis was fouled and he made one of two free throws to tie the game at 80-80 with 1:14 left in regulation.
Both teams came up empty on their next possessions before MHU’s Valentin Bauer drained a jumper with 5.1 seconds left to give the Lions an 82-80 lead. After a Tusculum timeout, Davis got the ball across mid-court in front of the TC bench where he launched a desperation three-pointer, but he was fouled on the play sending the senior to the line for three free throws. Davis connected on the first two tries, but missed on the third sending the game into overtime.
In the overtime period, Davis connected on four straight free throws on TC’s first two possessions and freshman Trey Blevins connected on a three-pointer to cap a 7-0 run to start the extra period as the Pioneers led 89-82 with 3:44 left in overtime.
Down the stretch the Lions trimmed the deficit to four points on two occasions, including 91-87 with 2:16 on the clock. But Mounce converted a layup and the Pioneers made seven of their final eight free throws in the last 37 seconds to seal the victory.
In the first half, Mars Hill jumped out to a 23-15 lead and later extended its advantage to 33-24 following a Justin Hartfield bucket at the 7:11 mark of the period. But the Pioneers would close out the half with a 19-9 run, which was sparked by three-pointers from freshman Caleb Hodnett and sophomore Zach Hartle.
Mounce finished the game with 17 points as he went 5-of-8 from the floor and 7-of-8 from the free throw line. Kendall Patterson added 17 markers and a game-high seven assists in his 39 minutes of play. Davis contributed 13 points off the bench, including 8-of-13 shooting from the foul line.
Tusculum went 34-of-53 from the free throw line for 64.2 percent, while Mars Hill went 13-of-30 (43.3%). TC’s 53 free throw attempts ties a school single-game record, matching the tries posted against Knoxville College in 2012. The 34 free throw makes are tied for the eighth most in program history.
Hodnett added 10 points (4-6 FG, 2-3 3FG) and seven boards, while Blevins finished with nine points for the Pioneers. All 12 Tusculum players who saw action found their way into the scoring column for the visitors.
Bauer led five MHU players in double figures with his 17 points off the bench, including seven in the five-minute overtime period. Moore and Vernon Jackson added 15 points apiece, while Makyle Wilkerson and Justin Hartfield finished with 10 markers each in the loss. Like the Pioneers, 12 of the 13 players who played for MHU scored.
Tusculum finished the night shooting 51.8 percent (29-of-56) and connected on nine 3-pointers, including one by Cory Fagan extending his school-record string of consecutive games with a trey to 30 in a row.
Tusculum returns home on Saturday when they host third-ranked and undefeated Queens University of Charlotte for a 4 p.m. contest. The Royals (15-0, 9-0 SAC) have won 15 straight regular-season games with their last setback coming at Pioneer Arena in double-overtime last February.