JEFFERSON CITY, Tenn. – The Carson-Newman Lady Eagles began their season with two games in 24 hours as part of the South Atlantic Conference/Peach Belt Conference Challenge at Horne Arena in Greenwood, S.C. The opponents are two of the top-three projected teams in the PBC with the USC Aiken Pacers and Lady Eagles tipping at 5 p.m. on Friday and a contest against the Lander Bearcats on Saturday at 3 p.m.
The Lady Eagles are coming off of their lone exhibition contest of the season against fourth-ranked Tennessee at Thompson-Boling Arena Monday night. The Lady Vols outscored the Lady Eagles by a four-point margin, 38-34, during the second and third quarters.
"I like the experience that we have," Carson-Newman coach Mike Mincey said. "To go into that environment and play as well as we did I was excited to see that and I think it will give us a lot of positive vibes going into the season."
Breaking down the roster, Carson-Newman has seven upperclassmen including four seniors. Returning 73 percent of their scoring and 67 percent of their rebounding, the Lady Eagles return the majority of their experience from an NCAA Tournament team in 2015.
The three-point line expects to play a big role for the Lady Eagles. Carson-Newman has made at least one three-pointer in 100 straight games. Since the 1999-00 season, the Lady Eagles are 46-6 when making at least eight three-pointers.
Carson-Newman owns a 5-3 lead in the all-time series including wins in four of the last five meetings. In 2014 Tatum Burstrom made two foul shots with 7.2 seconds remaining to propel the Lady Eagles to a 68-67 season-opening win at Holt Fieldhouse.
The Pacers have lost twice in season openers dating back to the 2005-06 season, both times to the Lady Eagles, 2005 and 2014.
USC Aiken finished the 2014-15 season with an 18-12 record finishing second in the East Division of the Peach Belt. The coaches picked the Pacers to finish third in the preseason poll.
Sophomore Emily Tsitouris was the Peach Belt Freshman of the Year and a third-team All-Conference selection. She averaged 11.5 points and 9.0 rebounds a game in 24.6 minutes of action per contest.
The Pacers began the season with a 77-43 loss at Colorado State and an 86-46 defeat at Colorado in exhibition action.
"They are very fundamental and well-coached," Mincey said. "Coach [Mike] Brandt is close to winning about 500 games in his career. They are going to play hard and be fundamental. You can't speed them up. They want to play fast too but you can't get them out of control."
Lander holds a slight 6-5 advantage in the all-time series despite a 66-57 Carson-Newman victory in 2014. Coach Mike Mincey picked up career victory No. 50 as the Bearcats were held to 7-for-35 shooting from the field in the second half as the visiting group scored just 17 points.
Lander was chosen second in the PBC preseason coaches' poll after going 23-7 last season. The Bearcats were the No. 4 seed in the Southeast Regional Tournament in 2015 falling 72-57 to fifth-seeded Wingate in the opening round.
Lander is receiving 50 votes in the preseason USA Today Coaches' Poll which would put the Bearcats at 28th nationally to begin the year.
The top three scorers are back for Kevin Pederson's group. Junior guard Ty'hesha Reynolds averaged 12.5 points, 4.1 assists, 2.8 rebounds and 2.4 steals per game while sophomore Breshay Johnson chipped in 12.4 points and 6.1 rebounds and senior Bre Crum chipped in 11.4 points per night.
"The good thing about it is we are playing two totally different teams," Mincey said. "One team is pretty big and more methodical and then you turn around the next day and play Lander. They are a little bit smaller but they use their athleticism and their speed to their advantage. If Lander plays the way they typically do they will press for 40 minutes."
Both games with be broadcast on cneagles.com/live Braxton Crisp providing the play-by-play action on the Eagle Sports Network. The Appalachian Electric Cooperative Countdown to Tip-off begins 15 minutes prior the start of each contest.
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