Basketball (W)

Women's Basketball Can't Dig Out of Early Hole, Falls in SAC Tourney Opener


GREENEVILLE, TN -- Catawba dug a deep hole early in the second half and fell 96-87 to host Tusculum in the opening round of the 2010 South Atlantic Conference Women’s Basketball Tournament on Wednesday night at Pioneer Arena.  The Pioneers, seeded fourth, improve to 18-9 and advance to Saturday’s semifinals.  The fifth-seeded Catawba Indians end their season at 15-13. 

Catawba never led and saw Tusculum pull away late in the first half.  A three-point play by Nisha Long (Dallas, NC/Gaston Day) brought the Lady Indians within 25-21 at the 8:53 mark of the first half then Tusculum began to take control.  Three quick baskets upped the lead to 10 and TC led 40-25 with 3:42 left.  The Pioneers scored the final nine points of the half to lead 49-30 at the break.

Tusculum held its largest lead at 23 points, but Catawba closed within a dozen with just under 12 minutes to go.  The Pioneers used an 8-0 spurt to go up 74-54 with 7:08 left.  TC held an 80-58 edge with only 5:20 left when Catawba began to make things interesting.  The Lady Indians canned five three-pointers over a four minute span to pull within 89-77 with 1:39 remaining.

Milica Ivanovic (Belgrade, SERBIA/Sports High/Bethel) canned a trio of three-pointers in the final five minutes and her last, with 51 seconds left, cut the lead to single digits at 92-83.  Catawba got as close as seven, but the Pioneers got four free throws from Jasmine Gunn in the final 31 seconds to hold on.

The Lady Indians shot 52.5% in the second half and scored 57 points, but could not overcome the big deficit.  Ivanovic tallied 23 points, while Dana Hicks (York, SC/Gaston Day) delivered another double-double with 22 points and 16 rebounds.  The duo combined for 34 points in the second half.

Gunn scored a game-high 32 points to pace the Pioneers.  She was 15-of-20 at the line.  Kat Spears and Catherine Hintz each added 17, while Kendal Baxter tallied 14.  The Pioneers committed just seven turnovers and went to the line 47 times, making 28.  Catawba connected on 10 three-pointers for the third game in a row, but was 11-of-15 at the line. 

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