JEFFERSON CITY, Tenn. – Sixth-ranked Carson-Newman shot 62 percent in the second half and made seven of 10 from long distance to remain undefeated with an 89-77 South Atlantic Conference victory over Lenoir-Rhyne Saturday afternoon at Holt Fieldhouse.
"Our guys went into [the locker room] and I told them that I don't lose my mind in games like this," Carson-Newman coach Mike Mincey said. "This is great because we need to be in a close game like this where we have to win one down the stretch especially at home. They haven't had a close game at home. L-R provided that for us.
"We came out with a three-point lead which is not something we are used to. They just kept pushing. L-R kept making shots. I didn't do a great job because I stayed in the press and I didn't sub very much. Our offense probably won us the game."
Carson-Newman (13-0, 6-0) has back-to-back wins over Lenoir-Rhyne (8-5, 2-3) for the first time in 17 games in the series. The Lady Eagles beat the Bears in the NCAA Tournament 79-72 on March 12, 2010 and earned a win in Hickory 70-61 on Jan. 17, 2011.
The 13 straight wins to open the year is tied with the 1978-79 team for the second-best start to a season while the 6-0 mark in SAC play is tied with 2009-10 unit for the third-best opening to league play.
Mincey's unit raced out to a 9-0 lead as Mika Wester (Newport, Tenn.) hit a running floater from the left side of the paint off of a pass from Haris Price (Gatlinburg, Tenn.) with 8:29 to go in the first. After the Bears pulled within six at 13-7 with 4:50 to go in the quarter, C-N ripped off a 12-2 spurt to push the lead to a game-high 16 points at 25-9 with 1:38 in the opening stanza.
L-R started to find its stroke rattling off 11 unanswered points from the 1:25 mark of the first quarter to 9:32 point of the second quarter to make it a 25-20 contest. A jumper from Briana Smith (Nashville, Tenn.) with 5:13 to play in the half pushed the C-N lead to 11 at 33-22.
The Lady Eagles failed to score a point over the next five minutes as L-R rattled off 11 in-a-row to tie the score at 33. With 27 ticks to play before the break, Jecca Simerly (Talbott, Tenn.) buried her first career three-point attempt from the left corner to make it a 36-33 contest at halftime.
In the second quarter, C-N posted 11 points for its lowest total in the stanza on the season going 5-for-15 from the floor.
Kayla Marosites (Elizabethton, Tenn.) scored 10 of C-N's first 12 points in the third quarter as each team was electric from the field. The Lady Eagles shot 61 percent while the Bears shot 53 percent as Mincey's team stretched the lead to eight points at 65-57.
A scoring drought of just over three minutes by Carson-Newman saw the Bears cut the deficit to five points at 74-69 with 4:46 remaining. The Lady Eagles made their final five shots from the floor with two triples from Ashton Wykle (Greeneville, Tenn.) and Wester to close the game.
Six players scored in double figures for Mincey as Price and Smith each had 18 points. Price finished with four assists and four boards while Smith had five assists and four steals.
Wester filled the stat sheet with 17 points, a career-high seven assists to go along with four blocks and four rebounds.
Simerly racked up the sixth double-double of her career with 10 points and 11 rebounds to go along with five assists.
Wykle made four of six from long range to compile 12 points and Marosites scored 10 points and added eight rebounds, four steals, three assists and two rejections.
"We knew we were shooting bad," Wykle said. "When you don't see shots falling you feel the frustration from everyone else. It was a whole new mindset and that third quarter was just ours. It could have been anybody. We have some great shooters. Everyone has confidence in each other."
Playing the entirety of the second half without the conference's leading scorer Madi Suddreth who left the game late in the first half, L-R had three players in double digits. Kendall Toineeta had 17 points, five rebounds and four assists.
Kennedy Weight chipped in 13 points and Marie Ritchie ended the day with 10 points.
Two weeks from today the Lady Eagles close out the 2017 calendar year on Dec. 30 at 2 p.m. in their final non-conference outing of the season against King (Tenn.) inside of Holt Fieldhouse. The game will be aired on the Eagle Sports on 106.3 (WPFT-FM, Sevierville) and cneagles.com/live starting at 1:45 p.m.
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