Lady Pioneers blow out defending national champs

 RALEIGH, N.C. — Tusculum College’s Kendal Baxter scored 28 points while the Pioneers used a 22-4 second half run in a 78-58 victory over 13thranked Shaw University Tuesday night at Spaulding Gymnasium in women’s basketball action.

 Tusculum (6-2) snapped the Bears’ 16-game winning streak, which dates back to last season for the defending NCAA Division II national champions. The TC win also marks the second straight year that the Pioneers have knocked off the defending national champion.

 The Pioneers recorded a dozen three-pointers on the night as Tusculum posted its third double-figure trifecta performance of the young season.

 Baxter paced the Tusculum charge with 20 points alone in the second half to go along with her six 3-pointers for the game. The Sevierville, Tenn. senior has 272 career treys to her credit, which are second in South Atlantic Conference history, moving ahead of former Presbyterian College standout Chris Mitchum (270 from 1992-96).

 Tusculum got a complete team effort as Jama Hammontree posted 15 points and six rebounds, while Breaira Barksdale added 10 points and seven assists. April McCann scored four points, but hauled in a career-high 12 rebounds, including six offensive boards.

 TC limited the Bears (1-1) to shoot only 29 percent for the game, while winning the rebound battle by a 52-42 margin.

 This coming eight days after Tusculum had its five-game winning streak halted in a 23-point road loss at Winston-Salem State University.

 “I thought we did a really good job coming out tonight and competing from the start,” said Tusculum coach Katrina Williams. “We did a good job of not letting up and continued to keep the game intensity up from start to finish. It was nice for us to come out and play the way we did right after a not-so-good performance last week. In order for us to be a championship team, the kind of effort we gave tonight is the effort we have to give every night.”

 Tusculum led wireto-wire as Hammontree scored the first five points of the contest, while the Pioneers later used an 11-0 run over a two-minute span. Baxter connected on back-to-back treys, while Barksdale followed with a layup and a three-pointer as TC led 21-9.

 The Bears cut the deficit to seven on two occasions down the first half stretch, but baskets by Alishia Mosley and McCann gave Tusculum a 35-25 lead at the intermission.

 Following a Shaw basket to start the second half, Tusculum blistered the Bears over the next seven minutes to race out to a commanding 57-31 lead. Tusculum shot 8-of-16 from the floor during the run, including 4-of-9 from three-point territory, sparked by Baxter’s three treys. Defensively, the Pioneers limited Shaw to 2-of-7 shooting during the TC run, while forcing five turnovers.

 Tusculum took its largest lead of the game at 68-40 following a jumper by Fayetteville, N.C. freshman Kristen McMillion at the 7:46 mark of the half.

 Shaw answered with 12-0 spurt over the next three minutes to cut the deficit to 68-52. But that would be as close as the defending champions would get as the Pioneers posted its third win over a 2012 NCAA national quarterfinalist this year (Shaw, Rollins & Lander).

 TC’s Ashley Thurman finished with nine points and a career-high nine rebounds for the Pioneers.

Posted on Friday, December 14, 2012 at 11:33 am