Pioneers down Catawba 93-70 to advance to SAC semifinal


GREENEVILLE, Tenn. — Trenton Gibson tallied 23 points, 11 rebounds and a season-high nine assists to lead the No. 2 seeded Tusculum Pioneers to a 93-70 win over seventh-seeded Catawba in a quarterfinal game of the 2021 Pilot Flying J South Atlantic Conference Men’s Basketball Championship.

With the victory, Tusculum will host Thursday’s semifinal match-up against No. 3 Carson-Newman who defeated Wingate 64-57 in its quarterfinal game. The Pioneers advance to the semifinal round for a second straight season and seventh time in program history. Tip-off time for Thursday’s game is 7:30 p.m. at Pioneer Arena.

Tusculum (13-4) also extends its winning streak to seven in a row, the Pioneers longest since the 2008-09 club won eight straight from Jan. 17-Feb. 7, 2009 during TU’s NCAA Tournament run.

Tusculum never trailed, but had to hold off several runs by the Catawba Indians who end their season at 9-11.

Gibson nearly posted his second triple-double of his career as he went 8-of-17 from the floor with two 3-pointers and went a perfect 5-of-5 from the free throw line. Justin Mitchell scored a career-high 18 points as he shot 6-of-10 from the field with two triples and shot 4-of-5 from the foul line.

Joshua Scott also posted a double-double with 13 points and 10 rebounds, while Inady Legiste contributed 15 markers and seven rebounds in his 15 minutes off the bench.

Catawba was led by Terrence Whitfield’s 15 points, while Caleb Robinson tallied 13 points, 10 rebounds and three blocked shots in a reserve role.  SAC Player of the Week Marcus Burwell scored 13 points, while Bernard Pelote added 10 points in the loss.

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