JEFFERSON CITY, Tenn. – Carson-Newman bids adieu to four seniors in final home game of the 2015-16 regular season Saturday at Holt Fieldhouse when Wingate comes to Mossy Creek for a 2 p.m. tip-off.
Tatum Burstrom (Maryville, Tenn.), Jai Jai McLaughlin (Knoxville, Tenn.), Taylor Peterson (Mount Juliet, Tenn.) and Kianna Sedlacek (Cardington, Ohio) will all suit up for their final home games Saturday.
"They have changed the culture," Carson-Newman coach Mike Mincey said. "Unfortunately we didn't win a regular season title which was the goal. There are a lot of good things there and there has been some record-setting performances. They changed the culture in how we behave on and off the floor, how we do in the classroom, how we come to practice, how our work ethic is. That's probably the thing I am most proud of."
Burstrom is one of the most decorated players in the program's history. This season the guard broke the school record for career made three-pointers on Dec. 12 at Queens (N.C.). Her current total of 248 is tied for the fourth-most in South Atlantic Conference history. Against North Georgia on Dec. 3, she became the 17th Carson-Newman player to tally 1,000 points in her career and she currently ranks 10th with 1,185 points. Burstrom was an All-Freshman team selection in 2012-13 and was an honorable mention All-SAC pick as a junior. The Maryville, Tenn. native has 60 double-digit scoring games in her career having led the team 30 times and has 43 games with at least three made three-pointers.
McLaughlin is seventh in the history of Carson-Newman women's basketball history with 350 assists while compiling 60 games with at least three helpers. The do-it-all guard recorded the first two triple-doubles in the history of the program as a sophomore. On Jan. 22, 2014 against Tusculum McLaughlin went for 10 points, 14 rebounds and a C-N record for Division II games 13 assists. In the quarterfinals of the SAC Tournament on March 5 versus Catawba, the Knoxville, Tenn. native tallied 11 points, 10 rebounds and 12 assists. Coupled with the two triple-double games, McLaughlin has six double-doubles in her career.
"When I was fortunate enough to take over we pinpointed some locals that we wanted to go and get," Mincey said. "They were the first few that we were able to go and sign. I think they have really helped us to go and sign even better players in the next recruiting classes from the general area. They have been a joy to coach."
Peterson transferred to Carson-Newman from Palm Beach Atlantic and has been a Lady Eagle for three seasons. The end of her junior year saw the forward in double figures in six of the final eight games of the year and she has 11 double-digit scoring outings as a senior. Overall in her career, Peterson has averaged 6.6 points, 2.6 rebounds and has made 49 three-pointers.
Sedlacek was a dual-sport athlete for her first three seasons and has seen action in 29 games during her career. With 31 points in her career in just 82 minutes of action, the guard has scored five points twice in a game including the most recent occurrence versus Lincoln Memorial on Feb. 26, 2015.
"Petey came in after playing one year at Palm Beach Atlantic," Mincey said. "She's been a great stretch four for us. She has had some great moments and great scoring games. She came in huge for us last year down the stretch. And then Kianna she was a dual-sport athlete for her first three years which is very difficult to do at the college level. She made it work. She's one of the most loyal kids you can be around."
Saturday is the 72nd all-time meeting between Carson-Newman (16-9, 10-9 SAC) and Wingate (15-8, 12-7 SAC) with the Bulldogs holding a 40-31 advantage in the series having won five-straight contests in the series.
The Lady Eagles last victory over Wingate came in the regular season finale on March 2, 2013 a 56-50 decision at Holt Fieldhouse. Burstrom scored 12 points as C-N outscored Wingate 39-24 in the second half.
In the first meeting this season the Bulldogs held the Lady Eagles to nine points in the fourth quarter to win 63-57. C-N went 6-for-25 from the field in the second half as Wingate used a 16-3 run between the third and fourth quarters to take the lead and a 9-0 run to put the game on ice.
McLaughlin tallied her fifth double-double in a Carson-Newman with 10 points and 11 rebounds in the game. Junior guard Kailyn Brooks (Lafayette, Tenn.) finished with a game-high 16 points to go along with three rebounds and three assists.
The Bulldogs enter Saturday riding a five-game winning streak, the longest current sequence in the league. During that stretch, no game has been decided by fewer than eight points with three games in the double digits while leading the league in scoring margin this season at nine points per game.
Offensive efficiency has been a big reason for the success of Wingate this season as they are the top team in the conference and 23rd at the Division II level in field-goal percentage offense at 44.5 percent. The Bulldogs have shot over 40 percent in 11 games since they shot 39.7 percent against C-N on Jan. 9 including two contests with a percentage over 55. Most of the damage has been on the interior as Wingate has gone seven consecutive games with two or fewer made three-pointers. As a unit no team in the nation has attempted fewer shots from beyond the arc than Wingate in 2015-16.
The free-throw has presented issues for the Bulldogs this season as they are last in the league in percentage making 65 percent of attempts.
The game will be broadcast locally on 106.3 WPFT-FM and internationally on cneagles.com/live courtesy of the Eagle Sports Network. Pregame coverage begins at 1:45 p.m. with the Appalachian Electric Cooperative Countdown to Tip-Off.
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