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UVA Wise loses pair of nail-biters to Tusculum

KEVIN MAYS • Dec 19, 2019 at 12:37 AM

GREENEVILLE — Tusculum’s Mia Long could not hit a free throw Wednesday.

However, it didn’t matter because she did everything else well enough to lead the Pioneers to an 89-85 South Atlantic Conference basketball win over Virginia-Wise at Pioneer Arena.

Long, who went 0-for-8 at the free throw line, finished the game with 24 points, five assists and three steals to direct Tusculum to the key SAC win.

The victory helped Tusculum (8-2, 3-1) keep pace in the standings with the conference leaders, while UVA Wise (6-4, 2-3) dropped its second loss in its last three SAC games.

“She shoots like 70 percent from the floor because she’s very left-handed dominant and it works for her. The game plan was to force her to the right, and the one time we did she missed a right-handed layup,” UVA Wise coach Jamie Cluesman said of Long.

The game featured 18 lead changes and nine ties.

UVA Wise pulled away late in the second quarter to build a 46-37 lead at halftime.

The Cavaliers continued to build on their lead in the third quarter and enjoyed a 14-point advantage with 8:54 to play in the period.

Tusculum took advantage of Cavalier foul trouble in the third along with a fast-paced defensive and offensive attack to chip away at the lead.

“They were picked to finish pretty high in the preseason rankings and they’ve proven why,” Cluesman said of Tusculum. “They just battle for 40 minutes with their press. They force you to play fast.”

The Pioneers tied the game at 63 with 1:46 to play in the third on a basket from Sydney Wilson, who had a game-high 28 points.

UVA Wise regained the lead and led 67-63 at the end of the third.

Tusculum regained the lead with 8:15 left in the contest on a 3-point shot from Wilson.

The two teams swapped the lead five more times in the final eight minutes before Tusculum took the lead for good on a bucket from Long with 2:12 remaining.

Kasey Johnson added 20 points for Tusculum, while UVA Wise got 28 points and 15 rebounds from Cynita Webb.

Nia Vanzant added 23 points for the Cavaliers, while Caitlyn Ross had 12 points and Mackenzie King finished with 10.

The UVA Wise women’s team will be back action Saturday with a 2 p.m. contest at King University.

CAVALIER MEN FALL LATE

Tusculum outscored UVA Wise 6-3 over the final 1:42 to take an 86-84 win in the men’s SAC basketball contest Wednesday.

UVA Wise (4-6, 1-4) led for most of the second half until Tariq Jenkins hit a basket to put Tusculum up 82-81 at the 1:42 mark.

The Pioneers (8-4, 3-1) never trailed again.

Virginia-Wise had its chances late. The Cavaliers missed three shot attempts in the final minute, including two layup attempts.

Jenkins led Tusculum with 25 points, while Cameron King finished with 13 and Brandon Mitchell added 11.

Briggs Parris had a career night for the Cavs. The redshirt sophomore hit eight of 10 3-pointers and finished the night with 36 points.

The Cavaliers also got 22 points from Cameron Whiteside and Chance Sheffey added 10.