JEFFERSON CITY, Tenn. – One of the hottest teams in the country returns home to Holt Fieldhouse Saturday afternoon at 2 p.m. as eighth-ranked Carson-Newman hosts South Atlantic Conference foe Coker looking to extend a 10-game winning streak to open the year.
"We are taking a different stance on it," Carson-Newman coach Mike Mincey said of the ranking. "We are going to enjoy it. I think these kids have put a lot of work in and a lot of time in the gym and weight room especially over the summer. We are going to enjoy being ranked and being undefeated and enjoy every victory that we have.
"We understand that we are going to get everybody's best shot and that's fine. I'd rather be that than be the team that is going to try to beat somebody. I think our kids are handling it well. This team understands that they are a good basketball team. The pieces of the puzzle have come together to where we had those weaknesses in the past. We still have weaknesses but we don't have as many weaknesses. We feel like we can go and be competitive with anybody."
The Lady Eagles are one of 18 remaining undefeated teams at the Division II level and are riding a 10-game winning streak inside of the friendly confines since falling to Wingate 80-75 in overtime on Jan. 7, 2017. It is the 16th-longest streak in America as Lubbock Christian's 39-game stretch ranks atop the ledger.
In a short series that has Carson-Newman (10-0, 3-0) ahead 7-2, the Lady Eagles have won each of the last four since falling at Coker (3-4, 0-1) 68-61 on Jan. 17, 2015. The program has won all four meetings played at Holt Fieldhouse by an average of 25 points despite not crossing the 100-point mark in the series.
Last year, the two sides tangled on C-N's senior day as Coker committed 32 turnovers leading to 33 points for Carson-Newman as the Lady Eagles led for all but 26 seconds to earn a 95-71 victory.
Mika Wester (Newport, Tenn.) finished the day with her sixth double-double of the year scoring 24 points to go along with 10 rebounds and four assists. Kailyn Brooks and Briana Smith (Nashville, Tenn.) each notched 16 points in the game.
Coker was led by 18 points from Sydney Shull as she also tallied seven rebounds and five assists. Lindsey Adams ended the day with 16 points and six assists.
The program returns the conference's leader in field-goal percentage in senior forward Iresha Cooper but is 10th in the preseason poll. The senior has not missed a beat making 60 percent of her shot attempts in 2017-18 but has just three double-digit scoring efforts on the year.
From a numbers standpoint, the Cobras are towards the bottom of the league in the majority of the categories listed by the NCAA. Coach Shannon Johnson's group does excel on the glass ranking 12th in the nation in offensive rebounding with 18 per night racking up the 28th-most overall boards with 44 per evening. The unit has picked up at least 20 offensive caroms three times this season and have at least 40 rebounds in seven straight games.
"They are big," Mincey assessed. "They have some really good post players. I know that they are college basketball players and can put the ball in the basket. They have just struggled a little bit from the perimeter. Their post game is really good. It's a matter of keeping them off the glass."
No player is averaging double figures on the year as the club is scoring 64 points per game on the year. The school is the worst three-point shooting team in the conference at 22.7 percent, 17th from the bottom in Division II. Coker has made a total of 25 triples on the year.
Only nine teams turned the ball over more frequently than the 21.1 per game that the Cobras registered a year ago. That figure has been decreased to 18 on average to rank in the middle of the SAC.
UNC-Wilmington transfer, Janea Williams, is shooting 53 percent from the field and scoring 9.9 points per game this season while being the conference's leader in rebounding at 10.7. The graduate student has at least 11 boards in four of her last five games and no fewer than eight in any regular season game.
For those that cannot make it to the contest, grab your favorite snack and beverage and cozy up on the couch to check out the broadcast on 106.3 (WPFT-FM) with video and audio streams available on cneagles.com/live starting at 1:45 p.m. with "The Appalachian Electric Cooperative Countdown to Tip-Off" on the Eagle Sports Network.
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