JEFFERSON CITY, Tenn. – A road trip to upset-minded and South Atlantic Conference foe Tusculum Wednesday evening at 6 p.m. stands between fourth-ranked Carson-Newman and matching a trio of wins record for the program.
A triumph on the road would equalize the best start in school history with the 2009-10 team that started 16-0 and would make it the second-longest winning streak in the 40 years of women's basketball.
Coach Mike Mincey's club has won nine straight SAC contests since its last loss in league play on Feb. 18, 2017 at Wingate, 85-73. It is one shy of tying the consecutive wins mark against the league in program history of 10 set in the final two games of 1990-91 and the first eight of 1991-92.
With a 7-0 start to league play, the Lady Eagles are off to their second-best start in program history in league play tied with the 1994-95 and 2006-07 teams. In 1991-92, the team began 8-0 to hold the best mark.
Carson-Newman (15-0, 7-0), who stood pat in the WBCA coaches' poll this week, has more wins against Tusculum (10-3, 5-2) than other school in program history holding a 52-17 lead in the all-time series having won seven of the last eight meetings. 10 of the 17 losses have come in Greeneville but the Lady Eagles have won four straight road outings in the series since falling 55-51 on Jan. 9, 2013.
A strong third quarter helped C-N win at Pioneer Arena on Feb. 15, 2017 as the club went 16-for-20 from the field to earn a 72-59 victory and its fourth straight win over the Pioneers.
Kailyn Brooks posted 16 points and seven assists while Mika Wester (Newport, Tenn.) tallied her fourth double-double of the season racking up 17 points and 12 rebounds to go along with five assists.
Tusculum was one of four schools that posted a 5-17 mark in SAC play a season ago and found itself predicted to finish eighth in the preseason poll. Honorable Mention All-SAC forward Kasey Johnson was fifth in the league in scoring at 15.8 scoring in double figures in all but two games. She scored 18 points going 7-for-10 from the field in the game at Pioneer Arena last year.
The Pioneers have posted an unblemished record at home this season winning all seven of their games. From an efficiency standpoint, the numbers are nearly identical to the road outings but coach Devan Carter's team is scoring eight more points (82 to 74) inside of the friendly confines this season.
To celebrate students returning to campus, the first 500 fans to enter the gymnasium will receive a free "Orange Crush" t-shirt.
"We want to play in front of crowds," Mincey stated. "We don't want to play in front of empty gyms. When you are in an empty gym you have to bring your own energy. When you go to a road environment where there are a lot of people there it's going to be energetic. We are excited about the opportunity to play in front of a lot of people."
On the season, Tusculum is forcing an average of 25 turnovers per game, sixth in the country, with 14 steals per night, fifth in Division II. Transfers Yolizma Cupidan and Mia Long are tied for second in the league behind C-N's Haris Price (Gatlinburg, Tenn.) with 32 pilfers on the year.
The ability to take the ball away comes at a cost with the Pioneers committing 21 fouls per night, 18th-most nationally. Opponents are shooting 41.7 percent from the field season as TC is second from the bottom in the league and 237th in the country in that category.
On the offensive end of the floor, the Pioneers are second in the SAC, behind C-N's 96.8, in scoring offense at 78.5 points per game. Four players are posting double figures on a nightly basis led by Sydney's Wilson 14.1, who has six straight outings in double figures and ups her number to 15.3 points in conference contests.
Getting to the glass has been a key factor for Tusculum as the unit is second in the league and 18th in the country in offensive rebounds per contest at 16.
On top of Long's ability on defense, the sophomore leads the SAC and is 38th in the nation in free-throw attempts with 86 on the year. She has shot at least 10 foul shots in four games and has a string of eight games in succession with at least eight attempts. Despite the quantity, Long is converting on just 54 percent at the charity stripe.
The game will be broadcast on 106.3 (WPFT-FM, Sevierville) and cneagles.com/live for the radio calls. The Eagle Sports Network invites you to get your popcorn ready early and sit back to enjoy the high-octane outing between two Tennessee teams.
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