The Bulldogs traveled to Greeneville, TN to play against NCAA Division II School, Tusculum University. The lead exchanged hands on six occasions in the first half as the Pioneers closed out the period with a 12-3 run in the final 6:18 to carry a 34-29 lead into the locker room.
Tusculum opened the second half scoring five straight points, capped off by a three-point play as the Pioneers took its largest lead of the evening at 42-29 with 18:03 remaining. Trailing by a dozen (51-39) with 10:23 left, the Bulldogs scored seven straight points, including an E'Jay Ward three-pointer and a driving dunk from Matt Towry as TWC cut the deficit to 51-46 with 8:19 on the clock. Tusculum would drive its lead back to double-digits at 56-46 following a free throw from Vest, but the Bulldogs cut the Pioneers lead back to five (56-51) after a tip-in by Towry with 6:15 left.
Tusculum's Justin Steigerwald buried a pair of free throws as Tusculum led 58-51 at the 4:45 mark. Sean Bridges (Nashville, Tenn.) canned a jumper and Justin Hicks knocked down two free throws to bring the Bulldogs to within four points at 59-55 with four minutes left. The Pioneers connected on a clutch lay-up in the paint with 3:55 left as they led 61-55. It would prove to be the Pioneers final field goal of the night.
Tusculum led 63-57 with 2:43 remaining after two more free throws by Steigerwald. The Bulldogs made one more push as Bridges hit a running jumper in the lane and Ward followed with two free throws as TWC trailed only by two points with 1:54 remaining. Tennessee Wesleyan failed to connect on the final three shots of the game, including 23-foot three-pointer at the buzzer that hit off the side rim to preserve the victory for the Pioneers.
Tusculum finished the game shooting 53.7 percent from the floor, including a school-record 7-of-8 from three-point territory (87.5%). Tennessee Wesleyan shot 41.5 percent from the field, including 9-of-24 from beyond the arc (37.5%).
TWC's Matt Towry (Elora, Tenn.) posted a double-double with 15 points and 10 rebounds, while Sean Bridges added 13 points and three assists. Matt Harper (Etowah, Tenn.) finished with 11 points and six boards, while E'Jay Ward (Chattanooga, Tenn.) recorded eight points and added to his NAIA nation-leading assist total with seven helpers for the Bulldogs (6-6).
The Bulldogs will play in their final game before Christmas on Saturday at Lee University with tip-off at 4:00 pm.