KNOXVILLE, Tenn. – In their final exhibition game of the season, the Carson-Newman Lady Eagles grinded out a 90-57 loss to the fourth-ranked Tennessee Lady Volunteers Sunday afternoon at Thompson-Boling Arena.
While Tennessee led most of the first half, the Lady Volunteers never led by double figures. The great neutralizer for Carson-Newman was the three ball as the Lady Eagles went 6-for-8 from deep in the first half.
With Tennessee using just seven players due to suspensions, Carson-Newman soared out of the gates to take an 8-3 lead on a layup by sophomore forward Kaitlyn Cupples (Clinton, Tenn.) and a pair of three-pointers by junior guard Tatum Burstrom (Maryville, Tenn.).
The deficit was eight at 24-16 before the Lady Eagles began to chip away the Lady Volunteer lead. A three-pointer by Burstrom with 2:14 remaining in the opening frame pulled Carson-Newman within a 34-32 score. A 7-2 spurt had the home team going into the locker room up 41-34.
Carson-Newman outrebounded Tennessee in the first half 20-18 while yielding a 46 percent field goal percentage to one of the nation's top teams.
"Obviously one of the best first halves we've had down here," head coach Mike Mincey said. "One thing you have to remember is that they played with seven. We can take a lot from this game. It's probably the best game that Tatum Bustrom has played since she has played these games at Thompson-Boling Arena. I thought everybody that played in the first half held their own and played with poise."
Tennessee exploded out of the locker room on a 19-5 run to take a 60-39 advantage. While the Lady Eagles regrouped down the stretch, the Lady Volunteers earned trips to the foul line, attempting 20 foul shots in the second half.
The Lady Volunteers outscored the visiting group 49-23 in the second half as Carson-Newman went 9-for-31 from the floor as Tennessee secured a 90-57 victory.
Tennessee was held to its lowest point total in 11 exhibition games with Carson-Newman while shooting just 47 percent from the floor. The Lady Eagles held Tennessee to just 16 second chance points in the game after allowing 35 last year.
"Typically when we come to Tennessee, they get a lot of second chance baskets," Mincey said. "One of the things we did tonight was that we really wanted to push them off of the block and not give them a chance to throw lobs or make easy bounce passes in."
Burstrom led the way for Carson-Newman with 14 points on 4-of-7 shooting from the three-point arc. Cupples finished with eight points, three assists and two rebounds.
Sophomore guard Kailyn Brooks (Lafayette, Tenn.) had nine points, four rebounds and two assists.
Tennessee was led by Nia Moore who poured in 29 points on 12-for-16 shooting to lead a group of four players in double figures. Bashaara Graves finished with a double-double of 16 points and 10 rebounds.
The Lady Eagles take the week off before beginning its 2014-15 campaign with the South Atlantic Conference/Peachbelt Conference Challenge on Saturday at Holt Fieldhouse against USC Aiken at 7 p.m. The game will be broadcast on the Eagle Sports Network flagship station WPFT-FM 106.3 beginning at 6:45 with the "AEC Countdown to Tipoff".
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