Hustle pushes #5 C-N to breeze through Tornado

VIDEO: Game Highlights

VIDEO: Mike Mincey Interview

VIDEO: Katie Stubblefield Interview

VIDEO: Mika Wester Interview

JEFFERSON CITY, Tenn. – Racking up 10 blocks, 14 steals and 21 offensive rebounds, fifth-ranked Carson-Newman continued its unbeaten run with a 108-64 mastery of King (Tenn.) Saturday afternoon at Holt Fieldhouse.

"They were excited to play against somebody else," Carson-Newman coach Mike Mincey said. "We always preach to stay on the ground and not go up and block. Sometimes we were getting beaten and we blocked them from behind and that's great. They made plays out of it. The 10 blocks are fine. We are not trying to be a shot blocking team."

The second win over the Tornado marks the first time since the 2010-11 season that Carson-Newman (14-0) defeats a non-conference team twice in the regular season when it beat King (5-6) a pair of times.

It is the second time in program history that the Lady Eagles have opened the year 14-0 or better as the program's record improves to 20-0 all-time against the Tornado, the best mark against any opponent to start a series in the school's 39 years of hoops.

Mincey runs his winning streak to 11 games in December non-conference home games and is 13-2 in such outings since taking over in 2011-12.

The 10 shot blocks mark the first time the team has broken double figures in that category since stuffing 10 Catawba shots on Jan. 31, 2015, a string of 84 games and 1,065 days.

As a team, C-N handed out 33 assists on 41 made shots. It is tied for the fifth-most assists by a Division II team in 2017-18, three behind Oklahoma Baptist's high mark of 36 set on Dec. 16 against Kansas Christian.

Haris Price (Gatlinburg, Tenn.) got the game rolling with a triple from the right point six seconds into the game as part of a 7-0 start for C-N in the first 53 seconds. The margin reached 12 on a layup by Katie Stubblefield (Alcoa, Tenn.) before the Lady Eagles went on a scoring drought of 2:56. A spinning left-handed hook shot from the redshirt-senior made it a 23-12 game after a quarter.

"I like the way we have gotten started [this year]," Mincey stated. "Some of the starts we have gotten have probably propelled us to a victory. We did much better this game than we did before the break before L-R when we gave up a 9-0 run at the end of the first quarter. We didn't give that up. We carried a double-figure lead going into the second quarter."

In the second stanza, Mincey's club shot 63 percent and made all six foul shots while scoring 33 points. The Lady Eagles registered five scoring runs of 5-0 or better in the stanza including an 8-0 spurt capped by free-throw jumper from Mika Wester (Newport, Tenn.). An 11-3 sequence in the final 1:18 of the half gave C-N a 56-32 lead at the break.

Wester was nearly invincible in the first half with 20 points going 9-for-13 from the floor with six rebounds, four assists and three blocks.

"I don't think it was what I was looking for," Wester assessed. "It's what my teammates were looking for. They were finding me on the block and I have a new shooting shirt so things happened."

Carson-Newman missed its first four shots of the third quarter before reeling off 12 unanswered points missing two of its eight shots from the floor to push the lead to 68-38. Following a triple by Ali Golden, C-N scored 11 of the final 15 points of the frame to take an 85-49 to the fourth quarter.

With the Lady Eagles ahead 96-59 with 3:38 to go in the game, the team ripped off 12 straight points capped by a three-pointer from Addison Byrd (Nashville, Tenn.) to push the margin to 49 points, 108-59, for C-N's largest of the day. King scored the final five points of the game to make the final tally 108-64.

Three Lady Eagles finished the day in double figures led by 27 points from Wester who added nine rebounds, four blocks and four assists. She went 12-for-18 from the field in the game.

Price scored in double digits for the 13th straight game with 12 points while matching a season high with six steals. The junior added four assists.

Off of the bench, Stubblefield added 11 points making all five shots from the field in 14 minutes.

"I think we were really adamant about wanting to show that we are a top-notch team," Stubblefield analyzed. "We aren't a team that is going to come out after two weeks of a break and have a slump. We wanted to prove that we are here. We are ready to play and we weren't going to have any setbacks."

Jecca Simerly (Talbott, Tenn.) added nine points and seven rebounds while Kayla Marosites (Elizabethton, Tenn.) had eight points, 11 rebounds and four assists.

Che' Davis paced coach Josh Thompson's team with 15 points. Arielle Holloway did not attempt a shot in the first three quarters but went 5-for-6 in the final 10 minutes to score 13 points. Kristen Cupples added 12.

For the remainder of the 2017-18 season, C-N will focus on its South Atlantic Conference slate as action continues on Jan. 6 at Holt Fieldhouse for a 2 p.m. tip-off against the Catawba College Catawba Indians. Pre-game coverage starts at 1:45 p.m. on 106.3 (WPFT-FM, Sevierville) and on the Eagle Sports Network.

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