Tusculum rallies to defeat Lady Buffs

from staff reports

   GREENEVILLE -- The Tusculum College women's basketball team rallied from a 14-point first-half deficit, then held off a Milligan College rally in an 80-69 win Tuesday night at Alpine Arena.
   Tusculum shot 64.5 percent from the floor and 73.7 percent from the foul line in the second half, compared to 34.6 and 35.7 percent, respectively, in the opening period.
   TC jumped out to a 5-1 lead in the first two minutes, but then fell into a shooting slump as the Lady Buffs outscored the Pioneers 17-4 over the next 9:15.
   Junior forward Ann Marie Gardner capped off the run with a three-pointer to give Milligan an 18-9 lead.
   A three from TC junior guard Kari Karns cut the lead to 18-12, but the Lady Buffs went on another run, this time 9-1 to stretch their lead to 14 at 27-13.
   With the score 29-15 at the three-minute mark, Tusculum worked the lead down to seven at the break, scoring the last five points of the half. Karns contributed three of those points, and two free throws from junior guard Julie Maples with three seconds left made the score 31-24.
   The second-best free throw shooting team in the South Atlantic Conference this season, TC hit just 5-of-14 (35.7 percent) from the line in the first half.
   The Pioneers came out firing to begin the second period on consecutive steals and layups from freshman guard LaShay Collier (Wise, Va.) and sophomore forward Kelley Karns (Pilot Mountain, N.C.), and took their first lead since the opening moments at the 14:49 mark on a jumper from Maples, part of a 13-0 run that saw a five-point deficit turn into an eight-point lead (45-37).
   A jumper from Milligan freshman forward Kacie Letterman (Gray, Tenn.) stopped the rally, but layups from Kelley Karns and senior guard Lesley Murray (Monroe, Ga.) pushed the lead to double digits with 10 minutes to play.
   The Pioneers extended their lead to 13 on a three-point play from sophomore forward Amber Redding (Sevierville, Tenn.). Milligan began its comeback from there, scoring 10 straight points to cut the TC advantage to three, 56-53 with 6:13 to go in the game. The Lady Buffs managed to come with three on one other occasion, but that's as close as they would get as Tusculum converted 6-of-8 from the foul line in the final minute.
   Milligan sophomore guard Kari Stout (Hampton, Tenn.) led all scorers with 25 points. Letterman and Gardner added 12 and 10, respectively, while junior center Lacy York (Johnson City, Tenn.) pulled down a team-high nine rebounds.
   Kelley Karns tied a career-high with 23 points on 10-of-12 shooting and notched her third career double-double with 10 rebounds. Ten of Maples' 17 points came from the foul line and Redding tallied 13 points and nine rebounds.
   Tusculum (2-4) takes a day off before traveling to Converse College Thursday for a 7 p.m. start. Milligan (0-6) continues its season-opening road trip on Thursday with a game at Alice Lloyd College.