Lady Eagles unveil challenging 2015-16 schedule

Lady Eagles unveil challenging 2015-16 schedule

VIDEO: Mike Mincey Interview

JEFFERSON CITY, Tenn. – Carson-Newman women's basketball coach Mike Mincey announced the 2015-16 schedule for the Lady Eagles Monday morning that features 10 games against 2014-15 NCAA Tournament participants.

The slate has 28 games plus a season-opening exhibition against the University of Tennessee with 13 home contests. The schedule sets up to where the Lady Eagles are not on the road for more than three straight games and the longest homestand is two consecutive home games.

"It keeps it balanced," Carson-Newman coach Mike Mincey said. "If you have a lot of home games back-to-back-to-back-to-back then you know eventually that you will have that road stretch can potentially halt your momentum. I like how it's set up."

After a trip to Thompson-Boling Arena on November 9, Carson-Newman begins its regular season slate with the South Atlantic Conference/Peach Belt Challenge on the campus of Lander University. The season commences with a 5 p.m. opening tip on November 13 against USC Aiken.

The Lady Eagles take on the host school at 3 p.m. the next day. The Bearcats were the No. 4 seed in the Southeast Regional Tournament in 2015. Carson-Newman won the meeting a season ago 66-57 inside of Holt Fieldhouse.

"Lander and USC Aiken are both quality teams," Mincey said. "Of course Lander was a NCAA Tournament team last year and I'm sure they are looking to repeat that success again this year. Aiken returns a lot of players. We were fortunate to have that tournament here last year. It's a tough way to start the year for sure. It tells you a lot about your team."

The road swing continues for the Lady Eagles with a trek to King (Tenn.) November 18 at 7 p.m. Carson-Newman has won all 17 meetings against the Tornado in the all-time series including a 61-48 victory on December 15, 2014.

A rematch of a Southeast Regional first round contest is the first time the Lady Eagles will play inside of Holt Fieldhouse on November 21. Columbus State was the No. 2 seed in the region and No. 5 in the country when the Cougars knocked the Lady Eagles out of the NCAA Tournament with a 58-40 victory. All-American Michelle Mitchell returns for the Cougars after averaging 20.1 points per game and 7.5 rebounds.

"Coach [Jonathan] Norton and I have a lot of respect for their program," Mincey said. "I think he does for ours as well. Certainly when we played them in the NCAA Tournament we weren't at our best and we weren't healthy. They still beat us. They had those offensive rebounds. They still have Mitchell who scored in a variety of ways against us. He knows how important it is as we do that if you want to have a chance to make the NCAA Tournament especially as an at-large bid you need to play some of the better teams in our region."

Conference play starts several days later when Carson-Newman makes the short trek to Harrogate, Tenn. to face Lincoln Memorial on November 24.

The Lady Eagles return home to challenge Peach Belt foe North Georgia on December 3 who finished 21-9 and 12-7 in its league a season ago.

Five SAC schools advanced to the Southeast Region portion of the NCAA Tournament. Carson-Newman's first of eight games against such schools is inside of Holt Fieldhouse on December 5 at 2 p.m. against the defending SAC Tournament champion Newberry. The Lady Eagles got the better of the Wolves twice in 2014-15 including a 75-44 dismantling on Carson-Newman's senior day.

"Out of our 22-game conference schedule," Mincey said. "It's nice to know that those games are already there and if you get those quality wins or even if you lose those games you get quality points for playing those opponents."

The final nonconference contest of the season is a journey to North Greenville on December 9. The Crusaders were 12-17 a year ago. The Lady Eagles cruised to a 73-57 victory at Holt Fieldhouse on November 29, 2014 as Carson-Newman leaped out to a 49-22 advantage in the first half.

Consecutive road conference contests follow with a trip to Queens (N.C.) and Catawba. The Indians earned the No. 8 seed in the Southeast Region a year ago and eliminated Carson-Newman from the SAC Tournament with a 79-52 win in Salisbury, N.C. on March 4.

The Lady Eagles wrap up the 2015 calendar year with a home date on December 19 against Lenoir-Rhyne for a 2 p.m. tip-off.

A home outing on January 2 at 2 p.m. versus Mars Hill and a trip to Tusculum on January 6 at 6 p.m. gets the Lady Eagles out of Christmas break and into their stretch run.

January 9 pits a meeting with Wingate at 2 p.m. in the Tar Heel State against a Bulldog team that was the fifth-ranked team in the region and fell to eventual Final Four team Limestone 77-66 in the second round of the Southeast Regional Tournament.

Home games against Brevard on January 13 at 6 p.m. and Coker on January 16 at 2 p.m. lead up to a challenge at defending regular season SAC champion Anderson (S.C.) on January 20 at 6 p.m.

After a road journey to Newberry, the Lady Eagles return to Holt Fieldhouse for four out of five games at the friendly confines highlighted by back-to-back games against Catawba and Anderson on February 6 at 2 p.m. and February 10 at 6 p.m.

Three of the final five affairs come on the road with senior day coming on February 20 at 2 p.m. against Wingate. The regular wraps up with road affairs at Brevard and Coker during the final week of February.

The first round of the conference tournament will be played at the home sites of the top-four teams in the league on March 2 with the semifinal and championship held on March 5-6 at Greenville, S.C.

Each game during the 2015-16 campaign can be heard on the Eagle Sports Network with home outings available with a high definition video feed. In the meantime be sure to follow @CNathletics and @CNwbasketball on Twitter for the most recent updates.

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