JEFFERSON CITY, Tenn. – For the first time this season, the Carson-Newman Lady Eagles (11-1, 5-1 South Atlantic Conference) lost by a score of 66-63 despite trailing by 16 with 6:29 to play in the game to the Wingate Bulldogs (7-6, 5-1 SAC) Saturday afternoon at Holt Fieldhouse.
"We stopped scoring a little bit," head coach Mike Mincey said. "It was a physical game. I attribute a lot of it to that. They were very aggressive on the perimeter. I don't know if we handled it very well in the first half. We didn't have a heated discussion in the locker room. We are at home and only down 13. We can still get back in the game. It just took us a little while to start giving back some of that pressure they were giving us."
The Lady Eagles faced their largest halftime deficit of the season at 41-28 in a frame that saw Wingate shoot 50 percent from the floor including 6-for-8 from beyond the arc.
Carson-Newman started the game 7 of 12 from the floor but finished the opening stanza 3-for-17 from the field. A 12-4 run over a seven minute stretch aided the Wingate attack as Carson-Newman made just one field goal during that span that saw the score rise to 30-21 in the favor of the visiting team.
Sophomore Shelby Tricoli led all scorers with 20 points as she made her first six shots including four three-point baskets. Junior guard Jai Jai McLaughlin (Knoxville, Tenn.) led the Lady Eagles in scoring with seven points to go along with three rebounds.
Wingate had a double-digit lead for the first 15 minutes of the second half until Carson-Newman went on a 14-0 run over a five minute sequence to cut the deficit to 56-54 with 2:03 remaining in the game.
The difference for the Bulldogs was foul shooting. A team that came in sixth in the SAC as a 68 percent free throw shooting team made 19 of 20 in the game including 10 of 10 in the second half. Eight of the final 10 points Wingate scored in the game came at the free throw over the final 1:43 of the contest.
"Wingate had a big lead," Mincey said. "They were going down just trying to protect the ball while we were running around trying to trap. I think at that point we got really aggressive at the offensive end and made some shots down the stretch to get us back in the game."
After Brittany Hill, an 88 percent foul shooter, made a pair of free throws the Lady Eagles had one final chance with six seconds to play. After the ball exchanged hands twice, senior forward Whitney Kyle had a shot from the top of the key that fell short to seal the victory for Wingate.
McLaughlin led the way for the home team with 14 points, four rebounds and three assists. Kyle had 11 points and six rebounds and freshman forward Jecca Simerly chipped in 11 points and five rebounds in the contest.
Tricoli finished the game with 22 points while Hill filled up the stat sheet with eight points, six assists, five steals and four rebounds.
The Lady Eagles are back in action on Wednesday night when the team travels to Mars Hill for a 6 p.m. tip against the Lions.
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