Basketball (M)

Taylor Scores 18 in Return, But Men's Basketball Drops Home Opener to Tusculum

17_MBB_TaylorJameelMD1

SALISBURY, N.C. -- Tusculum canned eight first-half three-pointers and went on to spoil Catawba’s home opener with an 87-73 victory in South Atlantic Conference men’s basketball action on Saturday afternoon at Goodman Gym. The Pioneers improve to 3-6 overall and 1-2 in the SAC, while the Catawba Indians fall to 2-5 and 0-3.

Catawba found itself up 17-16 after a torrid opening five minutes. The Pioneers hit on four from long range at the start, two each from Peyton Woods and Donovan Donaldson. The Indians led 19-18 at the 12:40 mark, but Tusculum spurted away over the final 10 minutes of the half.

Caleb Hodnett’s three-pointer capped a 7-0 run that pushed Tusculum out 28-21 then a 9-1 surge grew the lead to 46-32 just before the half. A three-point play by Jameel Taylor was followed by his steal and dunk in the final minute of the half to get the Indians within 46-38 at the break.

Catawba clawed within a point twice in the opening six minutes of the second half, but could never regain the lead. Jeremy McLaughlin’s layup with 14:49 left cut the margin to 56-55, but Tusculum got back-to-back triples from Hodnett to regain momentum and Catawba went cold.

While the Indians missed nine straight shots and a pair of free throws during a six-minute stretch, the Pioneers pushed the 56-55 lead to 66-55. Catawba never pulled closer than seven after that, shooting just 29% in the second half.

Woods led all scorers with 27 points for Tusculum. Donaldson added 19 points with Hodnett putting in 13 points and grabbing nine boards off the bench. The Pioneers shot 50% for the game and were 11-of-29 from behind the arc.

Taylor, playing in his first game since an ankle injury in the season opener, tossed in 18 points to pace Catawba. Malik Constantine collected a double-double with 14 points and 10 boards. McLaughlin, with 13 points, and Jerrin Morrison, with a dozen, also reached double digits for the Indians.

Catawba hosts St. Augustine’s on Tuesday at 7 pm.

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