HARROGATE, Tenn. – Carson-Newman trailed for 29:30 and started a 9-0 run with 3:27 to play in the game to the 30-second mark to overcome the deficit and top USC Aiken 84-78 Friday night at Tex Turner Arena.
"We have been very fortunate again to be able to pull off a win against Aiken," Carson-Newman coach Mike Mincey said. "The monkey is off of our back as we have win No. 1. We can settle down and play. We can play a whole lot better than we played tonight."
The Lady Eagles (1-0) win the lid-lifter for the fourth consecutive season with the last season-opening loss coming on Nov. 9, 2012, a 59-56 setback to Coker.
USC Aiken (0-1) falls to C-N for the third straight season and falls to 3-7 in the all-time series with the Lady Eagles.
Carson-Newman scored the first four points of the game thanks to layups from junior forward Jecca Simerly (Talbott, Tenn.). USC Aiken hustled to tie the score at 11 before scoring 10 of the final 12 points of the frame to take a 21-13 advantage.
The lead for the Pacers expanded to 10 points early in the second quarter. The deficit was nine at 35-26 with three minutes to play before halftime when C-N rattled off nine of the final 11 points to go into the break down by two, 37-35.
"The first half I was not happy [with the tempo]," Mincey said. "We weren't getting back in transition defense and they were beating us down the floor. That's something that we should be doing to people. Offensively I felt like we left a lot of points on the floor in the first quarter alone. I think the first half in general was a wake-up call to our basketball team that you have bring your A-game."
The Lady Eagles shot 37 percent from the floor and went 5-for-9 from beyond the arc compared to a 38-percent clip from the Pacers and 4-for-9 shooting from distance.
Senior guard Kailyn Brooks (Lafayette, Tenn.) led all players with 17 points in the first 20 minutes going 6-for-10 from the floor.
Jasmine Carter was the leader for USC Aiken in the first half scoring 14 points on five of 11 shooting from the floor to go along with six rebounds.
Carson-Newman gained a 44-43 lead three minutes into the second half only to see USC Aiken go on a 10-2 run to take a 53-46 lead with 4:12 to play in the third quarter. The Pacers pushed the lead to seven points at 59-52 heading into the fourth quarter.
The fourth frame saw the Lady Eagles score 11 of the first 15 points to take a 64-63 edge with 6:37 to play. The Pacers responded with six unanswered points to go ahead by five in less than 90 seconds. With a four-point deficit at 73-69, C-N went on a 9-0 run to go ahead by five points before making four of six foul shots in the final 30 seconds to take home the victory.
The Lady Eagles pick up a victory for just the eighth time in the Mike Mincey era in 53 outings when trailing with five minutes to play in the game.
Brooks finished the night with a team-high 24 points, four rebounds and four assists as one of three players in double figures.
"I was just glad to get a win for our team," Brooks said. "It's a really good way to set the tone for the season and I'm excited about where we can go from here."
Sophomore Haris Price (Gatlinburg, Tenn.) scored 17 points and collected eight rebounds and four assists in her C-N debut.
Redshirt-junior Katie Stubblefield (Alcoa, Tenn.) tossed in 15 points on six of 12 shooting.
Carter led all scorers as she paced the Pacers with 30 points going 12-for-25 from the floor to go along with 11 rebounds. Kwajelin Farrar was the only other player for USC Aiken to record double-digits scoring 11 points on 4-for-5 shooting from the floor.
Carson-Newman closes out the SAC/PBC Challenge Saturday afternoon at 2 p.m. against 17th-ranked Lander at Tex Turner Arena. Broadcast coverage begins on cneagles.com/live beginning at 1:45 p.m. on the Eagle Sports Network.
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