WINTER PARK, Fla. — For the third straight year, the Tusculum College women’s basketball team upset a top 10 team over Thanksgiving weekend as the Pioneers defeated fourth-ranked Rollins College 69-55 in action at the Rollins Thanksgiving Tournament Friday afternoon at Warden Arena.
Kendal Baxter hit 10 threepointers and finished with a careerhigh 37 points for the Pioneers (2-1), who connected on 15 threes as a team and forced the Tars (4-1) into 22 turnovers which were converted into 25 points.
Baxter broke her career high of 35 points set on Jan. 4 of last season at Lincoln Memorial, and fell one shy of matching her school and South Atlantic Conference record of 11 three-pointers set in that game. The senior, who finished 10-of-18 from behind the arc overall, went 7-for-11 on three-pointers and scored 25 points in the second half alone, nearly outscoring the Tars (27 points) by herself. She also dished out a game-high five assists and had two steals in 37 minutes of playing time.
Jama Hammontree and Breaira Barksdale each finished with 11 points for Tusculum, which never trailed and led by as many as 20 points in the first half before Rollins pulled within a point with 14:26 to go. From there, the Pioneers went on a 21-6 run to regain control and pull off yet another Thanksgiving upset.
The Pioneers knocked off No. 7 Indianapolis 83-64 on the road two years ago and defeated topranked Clayton State 63-51 at North Georgia’s Thanksgiving tournament last year. The Pioneers have won eight of their last nine games played during Thanksgiving weekend dating back to the 2008-09 season.
Sarah Taylor led the Tars with 12 points and eight rebounds, while Sarah Blackburn and Ashley Losch added 12 points and seven rebounds apiece.
Tusculum opened the game by scoring 15 straight points as part of an 18-2 run over the first 6 1/2 minutes, led by eight points each from Barksdale and Baxter. The Pioneer lead grew to 26-6 midway through the half before a 16-3 spurt by the Tars pulled them within 32-28 at halftime.
Baxter led the Pioneers with 12 points in the first half while Barksdale, who battled foul trouble in the second half, scored all 11 of her points in the opening 20 minutes. Losch led the Tars with 11 points, but 13 Rollins turnovers were turned into 15 points for Tusculum.
Rollins continued to chip away at the Tusculum lead, and had a chance to tie when Jennifer Farrell was fouled on a layup with 14:26 left with the Tars trailing 42-39. However, she missed the foul shot and the Pioneers retained a onepoint advantage at 42-41.
From there, it was all Baxter as she scored the game’s next seven points to give Tusculum a 49-41 lead on a three-pointer with 10:37 to play. That three-pointer sparked a streak of six consecutive made threes by Baxter over a nine-minute stretch, part of a run in which she scored 22 of the Pioneers’ final 27 points.