AIKEN, S.C. – Nine players scored at least six points as Carson-Newman improved to 28-11 all-time in season cork poppers with a 93-57 dismantling of USC Aiken Friday evening at the Convocation Center to open action the South Atlantic Conference/Peach Belt Conference Challenge.
"It's always good to start the year with a win," Carson-Newman coach Mike Mincey said. "At times we played well and other times not so much. All 11 available players got to play and all contributed in some way. I'm most pleased with our ability to hit the boards – 22 offensive rebounds and 56 total boards isn't something we've been able to do before. Tomorrow will be a tough test against nationally-ranked Lander."
Carson-Newman (1-0) produced its second-highest scoring output in a season opener behind the 95 the Lady Eagles dropped on Lees-McRae on Nov. 19, 2013. The 36-point margin of victory is the largest differential in a lid-lifter since the program beat Covenant by 38 points, 92-54, on Nov. 11, 1986 and second largest all-time.
USC Aiken (0-1) has now lost a season opener against the Lady Eagles for a fourth consecutive season and is now 3-7 against C-N in the largest differential in series history.
With 56 rebounds and 22 offensive boards it was C-N's best night on the glass since piling up 57 rebounds and 26 offensive rebounds against King (Tenn.) at Holt Fieldhouse on Nov. 16, 2016.
The first frame set the tone for the night as C-N held Aiken to a 1-for-15 clip from the floor. The lone bucket for the Pacers came with 6:10 to go on a jumper from Marissa Bruce to cut the deficit to 6-3. The Lady Eagles went on a 13-0 run to provide an early cushion. A jumper from Addison Byrd (Nashville, Tenn.) made it a 21-6 C-N lead after 10 minutes.
Carson-Newman's lead was with 6:07 to play before the break when the school scored 10 of the next 12 to go ahead 42-18. The Pacers scored the final four points of the half to make it a 43-22 game at the break.
To start the second half, the Lady Eagles scored nine of the first 12 points to extend the margin to 27 points. Mika Wester (Newport, Tenn.) hit a jumper with nine seconds left in the third to make it a 69-39 affair going to the final period.
C-N made just one bucket in the opening 4:30 of the fourth quarter but held a 71-50 advantage. It was a drought that was countered with a big spurt as a layup from Briana Smith (Nashville, Tenn.) capped a 12-0 sequence to push the margin to 33 points at 83-50. Lonesha Lee converted a put-back layup with nine ticks remaining to keep Mincey's squad from its largest margin of victory in a season opener.
Wester led all players in scoring in the game with 22 points on nine-for-15 shooting as she chipped in eight rebounds and four assists.
Smith and Byrd joined Wester in double figures with 16 and 10 points respectively. Kayla Marosites (Elizabethton, Tenn.) made her debut in the Orange and Blue with eight points and 13 rebounds, 10 offensive.
The Pacers shot 29 percent as a team from the floor and missed 13 free throws. Melyk Taoull was the only player on the home team to score in double digits with 10 points on four-for-12 shooting from the field. Star Toomey collected 10 rebounds.
Play wraps up in the SAC/PBC Challenge Friday afternoon at 2 p.m. for the Lady Eagles against No. 15 Lander. Fans can listen to the game on cneagles.com/live starting 15 minutes before tip-off on the Eagle Sports Network.
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