JEFFERSON CITY, Tenn. – The Carson-Newman Lady Eagles (12-11, 9-8 South Atlantic Conference) women's basketball team fell to the Wingate Bulldogs (17-4, 13-4 South Atlantic Conference) by a score of 57-54 at Holt Fieldhouse on Saturday afternoon.
Carson-Newman led for most of the second half, only to see Wingate close the game on a 13-3 run and hand the Lady Eagles their sixth straight loss.
"We just didn't have a chance to put a ball in the hole late with Wingate at the free throw line a lot," said Carson-Newman head coach Mike Mincey. "It was an unfortunate set of circumstances that happened late that allowed us not to win the game, but I'm proud of our kids, I thought they fought really hard. The game could obviously gone either way, then you have outside factors that kind of decide the basketball game for two teams that have worked really hard and unfortunately we were on the losing end."
Carson-Newman was led in scoring by freshman Kaitlyn Cupples (Clinton, Tenn.), as she posted 16 points, hitting eight field goals near the basket. Joining Cupples in double-digit scoring was sophomore Tatum Burstrom (Maryville, Tenn.) as she hit a pair of 3-pointers and scored 11 points.
The Lady Eagles scored the game's first four points, but Wingate answered with the next six to grab the lead. Carson-Newman would answer back, going on a 10-2 run to take a 17-12 lead with 7:39 remaining in the half. Wingate answered with a run of its own to get the game tied at 21, then the Bulldogs closed the half on a 9-3 run to lead 30-24 at halftime. Wingate made eight of its final 11 shots of the half to go into the locker room with a six-point advantage.
Carson-Newman came out of the break with a 15-4 run to begin the second half, fueled by shot from Cupples, Burstrom, and junior Lashawnda Peacher (Springfield, Tenn.).
The Lady Eagles would maintain their advantage throughout the second half, although Carson-Newman could not grow the lead beyond seven points.
Carson-Newman's last seven-point lead came with 5:02 left in the game before the Bulldogs battled back. In the final five minutes Wingate took advantage at the foul line to draw closer, and free throw shots by Shelby Tricoli tied then gave the Bulldogs a 51-52 lead with a 1:43 to play.
After Burstrom tied the game with a free throw shot, Cupples gave Carson-Newman a 54-52 lead with 30 seconds remaining on a layup.
Peacher fouled Wingate's Morgan McGee with eight seconds to play, and McGee made her first free throw, only to miss her second yet the Bulldogs grabbed the rebound. Janitsha Williams scored on a layup right in front of the basket to put Wingate up 55-54 with 3 seconds left.
Carson-Newman's Jai Jai McLaughlin (Knoxville, Tenn.) missed a layup with a second left, and then after C-N quickly fouled the Bulldogs made a pair of free throws to win 57-54.
Wingate was led in scoring by Kayla Harris with her 17 points, and she was joined in double figures by Williams who scored 11.
The Lady Eagles will next play on Monday night, traveling to Brevard, N.C., to face the Brevard Tornados at Boshamer Gymnasium at 6 p.m.
Monday's game will be carried on the Eagle Sports Network's flagship station WPFT-FM 106.3 FM, with coverage beginning at 5:45 p.m. with "The Countdown to Tipoff," and live audio is also available on www.cneagles.com.