JEFFERSON CITY, Tenn. – The South Atlantic Conference/Peach Belt Conference Challenge initiates the 2017-18 season for Carson-Newman as the Lady Eagles face this year's host, USC Aiken, Friday at 7:30 p.m. before taking on 15th-ranked Lander at Saturday at 2 p.m. in Aiken, S.C.
"If you come away with a road win against Aiken a neutral site win against Lander it's going to give you a lot of confidence going forward," Carson-Newman coach Mike Mincey said. "You know that you are going to have two very good wins to start the year. At the same time we have to realize that it is the first two games. It's not the end of the world if we don't leave with two wins. Let's go over there and play hard, play our game and do the things we have worked on."
Carson-Newman opens its regular season for the fourth time against USC Aiken having won each of the last three meetings in successive seasons. The last time the Pacers won a game against the Lady Eagles came in the 2010-11 season opener on Nov. 13, a 62-36 victory.
In 2016, C-N trailed for the majority of the contest before using a 9-0 run after the final media timeout to pull out its first win of the season.
Kailyn Brooks finished the night with a team-high 24 points, four rebounds and four assists as one of three players in double figures. Haris Price (Gatlinburg, Tenn.) scored 17 points and collected eight rebounds and four assists in her C-N debut.
Jasmine Carter led Aiken with 30 points going 12-for-25 from the floor to go along with 11 rebounds.
Under the guidance of Mark Miller, the Pacers posted a 14-15 season in 2016-17 and is picked to finish sixth in the PBC standings after graduating five players. Miller welcomes nine newcomers to this year's club.
The Pacers crashed the glass to the tune of 44 rebounds per game, 14th in the nation a year ago. Once the ball was in their hands, the school turned the ball over almost 18 times per night, 231st in the country.
Sophomore center Kwajelin Farrar is the top returning player on the roster after tallying a program-record 14 double-doubles and posting 14.3 points and 9.4 rebounds per game last season. Farrar made 57 percent of her field-goal attempts as a rookie to rank 13th in Division II.
Lander snapped a three-game losing streak to C-N with a 68-53 win in Harrogate, Tenn. last season to take the lead in the all-time series at 6-5.
C-N turned the ball over 29 times and allowed 26 offensive rebounds. It was the most giveaways since Nov. 19, 2014, a span of 57 contests, when the Lady Eagles turned the ball over 30 times in an 88-79 victory over Tusculum
The Lady Eagles have lost both meetings on neutral sites to the Bearcats with last season and 61-59 setback in Salisbury, N.C. on Jan. 2, 2005.
The Bearcats edged out Columbus State in the preseason coaches' poll as the league favorite in the PBC after earning the No. 5 seed in the Southeast Region. The Bearcats beat fourth-seeded Limestone by 20 points before bowing out to regional champion Colmbus State in the second round.
Overall Lander scored just shy of 80 points pre game on the season to rank 11th in Division II getting to the free-throw line at the ninth-highest rate. Defensively, the unit forced just shy of 22 turnovers per night, 14th nationally.
Coach Kevin Pederson returns the region's Player of the Year in senior Breshay Johnson. The forward averaged a team-high 16.8 points in 2016-17 and tallied 14 double-doubles, tied for second-most in the PBC. Johnson led the conference in field-goal percentage at 61 percent and has nearly 1,500 points and 750 rebounds in her career.
Joining Johnson is fellow preseason All-PBC pick Mylea McKenith after scoring 16.2 points per game and being named the conference's Co-Defensive Player of the Year with 96 steals, a number that was 11th in the country.
Both games will be broadcast online at cneagles.com/live as The Eagle Sports Network will have the call starting 15 minutes before tip-off with "The Appalachian Electric Cooperative Countdown to Tip-Off" leading up to the start of the game.
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