JEFFERSON CITY, Tenn. – Following its first loss of the year, No. 9 Carson-Newman returns to Holt Fieldhouse Wednesday evening for a 6 p.m. South Atlantic Conference encounter with Lincoln Memorial.
"It starts mentally," Carson-Newman coach Mike Mincey said. "This is a new year. They have new pieces to the puzzle and clearly we have new pieces to the puzzle. We need to get back to the confident ways that we were playing. That last part of the game against Wingate was the only time I have seen us play that way through 17 games. We have to get back to the basics. We have a style of play that we play. We have a scheme that we live by.
"We are back home. We obviously shoot it very well here. Getting back home – I think it's a great place to be. LMU has lost five games this year by a total of 21 points. They have a five-game winning streak. It's great for us and great for them. Our kids are going to be pumped and I think there's going to be a large crowd here to witness a very good basketball game."
Winners of 14 straight games inside of Holt Fieldhouse dating back to its last loss on Jan. 7, 2017 (80-75 in OT against Wingate), C-N has its longest home winning streak in the SAC Era (since 1989-90). It is the seventh time in that span that the Lady Eagles have double-digit wins in-a-row at home. The prior mark was 12 set on four occasions (2014-15 to 2015-16, 2011-12 to 2012-13, 2004-05 and 1989-90).
Carson-Newman (16-1, 8-1) lost back-to-back games once a season ago losing to Lincoln Memorial (10-5, 6-3) at home on Nov. 22 in overtime and at Columbus State on Nov. 27. The last time the program lost two straight SAC outings came in February 2016 falling in three straight contests to Lenoir-Rhyne (13th), Tusculum (17th) and Wingate (20th).
Over the last 10 meetings, the Railsplitters have won eight games since 2013 with both wins for the Lady Eagles coming at Holt Fieldhouse. Overall C-N leads the series 46-32 thanks to a 19-game buffer to open the series.
The two programs tangled three times in 2016-17 with LMU coming out on top in each of the three meetings including a 72-67 victory in the SAC semifinals. It was the third time the 'Splitters had won three games in a season against the Lady Eagles with the others coming in 1986-87 and 1988-89.
On Nov. 24, 2015, C-N last entered a matchup with LMU as a ranked team losing 56-54 in Harrogate as Jasmine Kelly picked up a loose ball with 0.8 seconds remaining in the game and banked in a layup from just beyond the left block to lead Lincoln Memorial to an upset of 20th-ranked Carson-Newman 56-54.
Last season at Mossy Creek, LMU became the first team to score at least 100 points in a game against C-N since Feb. 9, 2008 when Mars Hill topped the Lady Eagles 100-69. The Lady Eagles led by five with 2:53 to go in regulation only to allow a 7-0 spurt. Haris Price (Gatlinburg, Tenn.) hit a teardrop with 28 ticks to go to tie the score and send the game to overtime as LMU never trailed in a 102-99 win.
After Price posted 19 points in that meeting, she was held to two points and zero points respectively in the next two meetings.
Mika Wester (Newport, Tenn.) went for a game-high 28 points on 9-for-18 shooting in the first meeting. The forward followed that performance with eight points, one of three times in her career she has not scored in double figures. In the SAC semifinals, she scored 19 points.
Lincoln Memorial was picked second in the preseason coaches' poll after winning the league's regular season title and producing a program-best 28-5 record. The Railsplitters lost to Columbus State in the Southeast Region title game and is without last season's league Player of the Year, Megan Pittman.
The 'Splitters come to town holding the longest winning streak among SAC schools having won five straight since losing at Newberry 53-47 on Dec. 16.
Fouling has been an issue for LMU on the season picking up 22 fouls per game, the 16th-most in Division II on the season. Opponents have attempted 54 more foul shots on the year.
Coach Krystal Evans has seen her group rank eighth, out of 11 teams, in field-goal percentage offense (39.7) - having shot above 45 percent three times - and field-goal percentage defense (39.1). Despite the lack of punch on the first shot, LMU is 11th in the country with 17 offensive rebounds per night.
The unit has forced the second-most turnovers per game this season at 20.5, 42nd in the country. In eight games, the opponent has given the ball away at least 20 times. Only Wingate on Dec. 13, has turned the ball over fewer than 16 times doing so 11 in a 67-64 loss.
Shea Coker, a second-team All-SAC selection in 2016-17, is the team's leader in scoring at 14.3 per game, ninth in the league. The senior has scored in double digits in all but three games this season, all conference games, highlighted by a 32-point effort against Clayton State on Nov. 18. In Holt Fieldhouse last season, Coker scored a team-high 25 points.
The game will be broadcast on Mountain Country 106.3 WPFT-FM beginning 15 minutes prior to tip-off with "The Appalachian Electric Cooperative Countdown to Tip-Off" on the Eagle Sports Network and on cneagles.com/live. Local fans can catch the game on MyVLT as WVLT-TV will provide the video broadcast.
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