MORRISTOWN, Tenn. — A late 9-0 run by visiting Spartanburg Methodist doomed Walters State's attempt at a 3-0 start Wednesday night, as the Pioneers left 'Z' Buda Gymnasium and Assembly Hall with a 90-83 victory over the homestanding Senators.
Walters State had no answers for the duo of Tracus Chisholm and Kai Rivers, as they combined for 50 points in leading the Pioneers to the win. Chisholm tossed in a game-high 29 points, while Rivers added 21 in the victory.
With the win, the Pioneers improved to 1-2 on the season, while the loss dropped the Senators to 2-1 on the campaign.
The first half of the game was tightly contested, with the lead switching hands six times and five ties dotting the opening 20 minutes. Neither team led by more than five until late in the half despite the Senators scoring the first five points of the game, as the duo of Chisholm and Rivers kept the Pioneers in it throughout the half.
Chisholm hit his first four shot attempts and rolled up a dozen points to help Spartanburg pull ahead 27-24 midway through the half, but a three-point play Kajuan Hale and later a triple from Demontay Dixon gave the Senators the lead back. Walters State never trailed the rest of the half, leading by as much as 42-35, but the visitors scored the final six points of the half to cut the lead to 42-41 at halftime.
The Senators shot 41.2 percent (14 of 34) from the floor in the opening 20 minutes, including 3 of 4 from 3-point range, and they were 11 of 13 at the free throw line in the half. Dixon led WSCC with a dozen points, while Khiry Shelton added 9 points in the half.
The Pioneers shot 46.7 percent (14 of 30) in the half, making 7 of 15 from long distance and 6 of 9 at the charity stripe. Chisholm notched 14 points and Rivers added 12 in the first 20 minutes of action.
The Senators went to work adding to the lead in the early portion of the second half, as Kajuan Hale took over. Following a triple and a dunk from Miles Thomas, Hale scored eight of Walters State's 16 points in a 16-9 spurt that built the lead to 60-51.
The Pioneers didn't go away, and Jared Richardson scored five points in a 10-2 run to cut the margin back to 62-61 with 10:47 left in the game. Spartanburg eventually retook the lead, and a 3-pointer by Chisholm, his sixth of the night, made it a 73-69 margin with 5:45 to go.
The Senators pulled even at 76 following a long trey from Deontae Davis and a pair of free tosses from Thomas, but a 3-pointer from Kris White followed by driving layups by Chisholm and Rivers put the visitors up 83-76 as the clock ticked under 90 seconds remaining. White's runner moments later made it a nine-point lead and put the game away.
Spartanburg shot 46.2 percent (30 of 65) from the field in the win, including 13 of 33 from long range, while also making 17 of 28 free throws. Richardson recored a double-double with 14 points and 11 rebounds, while White added 11 points in the victory.
WSCC shot 45.8 percent (27 of 59) in the contest, making 6 of 13 from beyond the 3-point arc and 23 of 33 at the foul line. Hale paced the Senators with a career-high 26 points while adding eight assists. Dixon tossed in 14 points and Thomas tallied a dozen in the defeat.
The Senators will return to action Friday night with a neutral site contest against USC Salkehatchie in Rome, Georgia at Georgia Highlands. Tip time is set for 6 p.m.