HICKORY, N.C. — The sixth-seeded Carson-Newman women's basketball team used a 23-3 second-half run to cruise past third-seeded Lenoir-Rhyne, 77-67, on Wednesday night in the first round of the 2011 Food Lion South Atlantic Conference Tournament at Shuford Gymnasium.
With the win, the Lady Eagles (14-15) advance to the SAC semifinals and will face second-seeded Wingate on Saturday at 2:30 p.m. at Catawba Valley Community College in Hickory, N.C. C-N swept the Lady Bulldogs during the regular season. Lenoir-Rhyne's season comes to an end with a 14-13 record.
C-N shot 46 percent (29-of-63) on the night, including a 9-of-23 effort from behind the arc. Lenoir-Rhyne shot 40.3 percent (25-of-62) but made just 11-of-35 attempts in the second half.
The Lady Eagles used a balanced attack with eight players scoring seven points or more. Senior guard Mandy Mendenhall (Kingston Springs, Tenn.) led the way with 15 points and five steals, while sophomore Courdne Miles (Burlington, N.C.) had 12 points, 10 rebounds and four blocks. Senior Amber Blackwell (Duluth, Ga.) pitched in nine points, while Candis Clear (Memphis, Tenn.), Shannon Depew (Newport, Tenn.), Rechelle Dye (Greeneville, Tenn.) and Zoriah Williams (Calera, Ala.) added eight points apiece. Senior Katlin Moore (Fort Mill, S.C.) chipped in seven points and six assists.
Caroline Laughter (Hickory, N.C.) netted 11 points and pulled down 12 rebounds to pace Lenoir-Rhyne, while Alexis Katt (Euharlee, Ga.) and Krystal Patton (Chilhowie, Va.) also had 11 points each.
The Lady Eagles got off to a strong start, as a 3-pointer by Blackwell at the 13:42 mark gave C-N a 13-6 lead.
C-N pushed its lead to 27-17 on a layup by Miles with 8:26 remaining before the Bears began to chip away. Lenoir-Rhyne went on an 8-0 run capped off by a 3-pointer by Krystal Patton to trim C-N's lead to 27-25 with 7:25 left
The Lady Eagles pushed their lead back to seven points at 37-30 with less than two minutes left, but the Bears outscored C-N 6-2 the rest of the way to pull to within 39-36 at the half.
A jumper by Mendenhall at the 17:57 mark of the second half gave C-N a 44-36 lead. The Bears scrapped back one more time with an 8-2 run to trim the Lady Eagles' lead to 46-44, but C-N went on its decisive 23-3 run to take control of the game.