Tusculum takes down Catawba in the semi-finals of the SAC tournament


GREENEVILLE, Tenn. — Tusculum University advanced to the finals of the Pilot/Flying J South Atlantic Conference Women’s Basketball Championship with a 60-53 victory over Catawba College in semifinal action Thursday night at Pioneer Arena.

Maddie Sutton recorded her 14th consecutive double-double with game highs of 22 points and 10 rebounds and the Pioneer defense held the Indians to 30.9 percent shooting for the game as second-seeded Tusculum (17-3) will host Lincoln Memorial on Sunday at 2 p.m. looking to win its second straight tournament championship. The Railsplitters beat Anderson 64-62 to become the first eight seed to advance to the SAC tournament finals.

Jalia Arnwine added 13 points and Marta Rodrigues contributed 10 points and four assists for the Pioneers, who shot 9-for-15 (60 percent) from three-point range and 43.8 percent (21-for-48) overall from the field in the victory. Tusculum was outrebounded 39-31 by Catawba, but the Pioneers outscored the Indians 24-7 on fast breaks and took the lead for good early in the second quarter.

Janiya Downs led the third-seeded Indians (10-3) with 18 points off the bench while Shemya Stanback had 11 points and five rebounds and Lyrik Thorne added 10. Catawba shot 17-for-55 from the field for the game and went 2-for-14 during the pivotal second quarter when the Pioneers outscored the Indians 16-9 to take an eight-point halftime lead.

Sutton shot 8-for-15 from the field and connected on a pair of three-pointers while becoming the first Pioneer to lead the team in points, rebounds and assists in a game since Mia Long against Newberry on Jan. 21, 2019. Sutton’s double-double was her Division II-leading 18th of the season while she broke the 20-point mark for the fourth straight game and the fifth time in seven games after having never done so in the first 93 games of her Tusculum career.

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