JEFFERSON CITY, Tenn. – Carson-Newman women's basketball coach Mike Mincey officially released the 2017-18 schedule for the Lady Eagles Sunday afternoon for a slate that features 28 regular season outings and an exhibition at the University of Tennessee.
10 of the games on the docket will be against teams that qualified for the NCAA Playoffs in 2016-17 as C-N will face six of the eight teams from the Southeast Regional.
For the 14th consecutive year, C-N and UT will compete in a preseason effort. In 2016, the Lady Eagles were down by 11 at halftime only to see the Lady Volunteers shoot 53 percent in the second half en route to a 95-56 win.
Regular season play opens with the South Atlantic Conference/Peach Belt Conference Challenge in Aiken, S.C. against USC Aiken on Nov. 10 and Lander on Nov. 11. The Pacers were one of seven teams to finish over .500 in conference action a year ago.
The Bearcats won the east division with 25-8 overall record and a 15-4 mark in PBC action, second to Columbus State's 18-1 tally. Coach Kevin Pederson's unit earned the No. 5 in region play throttling fourth-seeded Limestone in the first round before being bounced by eventual region titlist Columbus State 73-63.
"We are excited about our team," Mincey said. "We have some talented returning players. We feel good about the incoming freshman and some transfers that rolled in. Until we get to those games we really don't know how good we can be.
"Starting out with Aiken and Lander is going to be tough. It's at Aiken this year and I know they have a slew of new players so we aren't going to know a whole lot about them. Lander, as far as I can tell, is going to be loaded this year. It's the best we could do in terms of scheduling is to play back-to-back tournaments the first two weekends playing talented teams."
Before traveling to the UNG Nighthawk Classic, Mincey's squad plays the first of two contests against King making the trek to Bristol (Tenn.) on Nov. 15. The Tornado landed as the No. 7 seed in the playoff field after winning their first Conference Carolinas tournament title on Whitney Mitchell's free throws with 6.2 on the clock.
The two programs will meet at Holt Fieldhouse on Dec. 30 in a series that the Lady Eagles own a 19-0 record. Last year, C-N drubbed King by a 107-71 tally in one of two games that the club made a program record 15 three-pointers.
The second straight weekend playing on back-to-back days has Carson-Newman facing off against North Georgia and Georgia College in Dahlonega, Ga. Each team finished with winning records on the year as North Georgia went 20-9.
After playing its first five games away from home, Carson-Newman opens up Holt Fieldhouse on Nov. 21 at 6 p.m. against Shorter. Following a meeting with Columbus State after Thanksgiving, C-N opens conference play with Mars Hill on Nov. 29 at 6 p.m.
"The league, I think is tougher this year than it was last year," Mincey assessed. "Some of the teams that didn't finish in the top four and didn't make the tournament recruited well. We only have one new coach in the league this year so there is that consistency from that perspective at all of these schools. I think it's going to be really tough. If we can stay healthy and we can play with the guys that we have right now I like our chances. I feel like we have a lot of good depth. We just have to stay healthy. We played really well at home and scored the ball really well. That's what we will look to do this year."
During league action the Lady Eagles will not have a road trip that extends beyond two games. The end of December will keep C-N at home with home outings against Lenoir-Rhyne and Catawba sandwiched between the non-conference meeting with King.
The conference slate showcases three tournament clubs from a season ago. Anderson (S.C.) was the No. 8 seed as an at-large selection falling by 11 points to the top-seeded Cougars. The Trojans will be in Jefferson City on Jan. 31.
Mincey's program will face the other two qualifiers in succession. A road trip to Wingate on Jan. 13 precedes a home game against Lincoln Memorial on Jan. 17. The two sides reverse roles to end the year on Feb. 21 and Feb. 24.
The Bulldogs won the SAC Tournament with a 20-point win in Greenville, S.C. to take the No. 2 seed in the region. After toppling King, LMU picked up a 19-point victory. Wingate is the regular season finale and the team's senior day on the 24th of February.
The Railsplitters won the regular season crown going 28-5 overall and 19-3 during the league's slate. LMU fell in the region championship game to Columbus State by 11 points.
Each game during the 2017-18 campaign can be heard on the Eagle Sports Network's flagship station Mountain Country 106.3 WPFT-FM with home outings available on cneagles.com/live with a high definition video feed. In the meantime be sure to follow @CNathletics and @CNwbasketball on Twitter for the most recent updates before the season tips off in Knoxville on Nov. 7 at 7 p.m.
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