JEFFERSON CITY, Tenn. – With 14 games in the books and 14 regular-season outings left on the docket, fourth-ranked Carson-Newman focuses on South Atlantic Conference play beginning Saturday afternoon at 2 p.m. with a contest against second-place Catawba.
"They have played really well as of late," Carson-Newman coach Mike Mincey said. "They have some good wins at home. They had a good win on the road at L-R which is always tough to play. They are a quality team. They only lost basically one starter from last year and that was Bri Johnson. We know it's a challenge.
"If you are looking at the conference, we are 6-0 in league play and they are 5-1. The national rankings and all of that other stuff has no effect. This is about conference play and you have to win games at home if you want to finish in that top four like we talk about. It's going to be a big challenge and our kids are looking forward to it."
One of the keys to success for the group on the year has been a quick start as the team has scored its first points of the game on layups seven times and at the charity stripe thrice. In the first five minutes of the first 14 games of the season, C-N is outscoring foes by a plus-90 margin, 169-79.
The two schools meet for the 65th time since the first meeting in 1990 as Catawba (7-6, 5-1) holds a 37-27 advantage in the series despite Carson-Newman (14-0, 6-0) winning each of the last two outings.
The Lady Eagles completed a regular season sweep over Catawba for the first time in 11 seasons when it did so in 2005-06 with a 83-79 win at Holt Fieldhouse on Dec. 14, 2016 and an 80-76 triumph at Catawba on Feb. 4, 2017.
Mincey earned his 100th career coaching win in the Feb. 4 meeting as his club overcame a fourth-quarter deficit holding Catawba to 5-for-17 shooting from the floor in the final stanza.
Mika Wester (Newport, Tenn.) was dominant in both meetings cresting 20 points in each contest going a combined 18-for-30 from the field with 20 and 23 points respectively. In the first affair she added 10 rebounds, five assists and three blocks.
All-conference post player Terri Rogers has been hit or miss for the Indians in six career outings against C-N with three games in double figures and a trio of contests with five or fewer points. She has three double-doubles against the Lady Eagles in her career including a 20-point and 10-rebound evening at home on Feb. 4.
Catawba placed a pair of players on the preseason all-conference teams and was tabbed to finish in the sixth spot in the preseason coaches' poll.
Rogers earned a spot on the preseason first-team group and guard Serena Brown found herself on the second unit. Rogers was third in the league in scoring at 18 points per game and fifth in rebounds with just under nine a season ago. The senior missed each of the first three games of the year but ranks third in the league in scoring at 16.9 points per game.
Brown is the only other double-digit scorer on the roster with 11.2 points per game ranking second in the league with 5.4 assists per night.
Coach Angie Morton's group won one of its first four games of the season but has found its footing in league action. The Indians have won four straight conference outings since losing at Lincoln Memorial on Dec. 2 by 17 points, 60-43.
In conference games no team is better defensively than Catawba leading the conference in field-goal percentage defense (34.3), three-point defense (25.3) and points per game allowed (54.2). Outside of Lenoir-Rhyne's 70-point effort on Jan. 3, no team has scored more than 65 points in a league game.
At the other end of the floor, the Indians are 10th in the league in field-goal percentage at 37.9 on the year, a number that rises to 40.9 through six league efforts.
With the daunting thought of going outside in the frigid January temperatures, grab a blanket, a hot cup of your favorite hot beverage and enjoy the broadcast of the contest on the Eagle Sports Network by tuning into 106.3 (WPFT-FM, Sevierville) or typing in cneagles.com/live for the video and audio streams.
- CN -