JEFFERSON CITY, Tenn. — The Carson-Newman College women's basketball team fell behind by double digits in the first half and never recovered. Lenoir-Rhyne University held on for a 71-64 victory at Holt Field House Saturday night.
The Lady Eagles fall to 10-14 on the season and 6-8 in the South Atlantic Conference. Lenoir-Rhyne is 12-10 overall and 9-5 in the SAC and remains tied for second in the conference with Wingate. C-N is currently in seventh place in the SAC.
Lenoir-Rhyne used a 24-5 run in the last 10 minutes of the opening half to take the game away. The Lady Eagles were dominated on the boards all game, grabbing only 41 rebounds to L-R's 60. In the first half alone, the Lady Bears had 37 rebounds with 13 coming from the offensive glass.
The first half was a disaster all around for Carson-Newman. The Lady Eagles shot just over 20 percent, were 2-for-6 in free throws and 3-of-12 from beyond the 3-point stripe. C-N led by five with 10:57 to go in the first half after a free throw from Mandy Mendenhall (Kingston Springs, Tenn.). The Lady Bears held Carson-Newman scoreless for the next five minutes while they surged ahead behind Whitney Cutler and Precious Elkins. Elkins finished the game with 16 points and 15 rebounds. Cutler scored 10 points.
After trailing 33-19 at the half, Carson-Newman mounted a furious comeback attempt. Junior forward Zoriah Williams (Colera, Ala.) consistently found ways to get behind Lenoir-Rhyne's defense. After being held to just four points in the first half, Williams erupted in the second, ending with 19 points while adding 13 rebounds.
Freshman Shannon Depew (Newport, Tenn.) missed key minutes of the second half while in foul trouble, but still managed to score 16 points and grab 10 rebounds of her own.
Still, it wasn't enough against the hot-shooting Lady Bears. Lenoir-Rhyne stretched its lead to 18 with a little over 12 minutes to play. Finally, with their backs to the wall, the Lady Eagles were able to consistently find the basket.
Williams, Depew and Mendenhall led the comeback. Free throws from Mendenhall cut L-R's lead to nine at the eight minute mark. A Mendenhall jumper sliced it to eight with seven minutes to go. Each time Carson-Newman would get the lead to single digits, Lenoir-Rhyne would find a way to stretch it back out.
With 14 seconds to go in the game, a Mendenhall 3-pointer cut L-R's lead to five, but the Lady Eagles' comeback finally ran out of time. Mendenhall finished the game with 10 points.
The Lady Eagles return to action on Wednesday at home against Mars Hill. Tipoff is set for 6 p.m. at Holt Fieldhouse.