JEFFERSON CITY, Tenn. – A journey to Hickory opens the shortest month on the calendar as fifth-ranked Carson-Newman makes the trek to face Lenoir-Rhyne Saturday afternoon at 2 p.m. in South Atlantic Conference play.
A win on Saturday for Carson-Newman (21-1, 13-1) would be the 10th road victory of the season. A Lady Eagle club has achieved double-digit wins in away contests just once since 2000 when the 2009-10 unit registered an 11-4 mark.
"I think it's a testament to our roster," Carson-Newman coach Mike Mincey said. "We've always talked to them about if you can rebound and take care of the ball you have a chance to win anywhere whether that's on the road or at home. I think we have done a really good job in both of those areas this year. We don't score as much on the road but we score a lot. Aside from the Wingate game, we have played really good basketball on the road this year."
Since its only loss of the season, C-N has forced at least 22 turnovers in each of the last five games scoring 32 points per game on average off of those giveaways. On the other side, foes have tallied 45 points off of turnovers, an average of nine per game, in that span. Overall on the year, the Lady Eagles are outscoring teams by a margin of 25-12 in points off of turnovers as only four clubs have won that battle in 2017-18.
Saturday is the 71st all-time meeting between the two programs and while the Eagles are 42-28 overall, they are 15-17 in Hickory. C-N has lost three straight trips to Shuford Gym with the last triumph coming on Dec. 14, 2013, an 80-77 decision. Current assistant coach Tatum Burstrom went off for a game-high 27 points on nine of 16 shooting from the floor to help C-N win a game where it turned the ball over 26 times. The last regular season sweep of Lenoir-Rhyne (12-10, 6-8) came during the 2007-08 season.
When the two clubs met up on Dec. 16, the Lady Eagles needed a strong second half to earn an 89-77 win at Holt Fieldhouse. Outside of trailing at halftime at Newberry, the first meeting is the only time C-N has not gone into the locker room at halftime with a double-digit lead as the score was 36-33. Mincey's team shot 62 percent over the final 20 minutes and went 7-for-10 from long range.
Six players scored in double figures for C-N as Haris Price (Gatlinburg, Tenn.) and Briana Smith (Nashville, Tenn.) each had 18 points. Price finished with four assists and four boards while Smith had five assists and four steals.
Mika Wester (Newport, Tenn.) filled the stat sheet with 17 points, a career-high seven assists to go along with four blocks and four rebounds. Jecca Simerly (Talbott, Tenn.) racked up the sixth double-double of her career with 10 points and 11 rebounds to go along with five assists.
For L-R, Kendall Toineeta had 17 points, five rebounds and four assists. Kennedy Weight chipped in 13 points and Marie Ritchie ended the day with 10 points.
The Bears saw a four-game winning streak come to a halt Wednesday night in a 49-43 home loss to Newberry, its lowest scoring output of the season. L-R has been terrific on the road with a 7-3 record but is 5-7 inside of Shuford Gym. Stats do not provide major insight into the difference although the team is shooting slightly worse from the floor and turning the ball over more frequently in Hickory.
After scoring 74 points per game in the first two months of the year, L-R has slowed the game down and is scoring 61 points per contest since the calendar flipped to 2018. In eight January outings, the Bears committed an average of 18 turnovers per night. The school has been held under 40 percent shooting in four of its last six home games.
While the Bears shoot 73 percent from the free-throw line, the team is second from the bottom at getting to the charity stripe with a total of 346 attempts on the year and just one game with at least 20 foul shots in the last 12 contests.
A trio of players average double figures for coach Cameron Sealey led by Madi Suddreth's 15. The forward was limited to 17 minutes in the first meeting between the two teams as she failed to score in double digits for five straight outings. She has four double-digit scoring efforts in the last five games shooting 59 percent from the floor in that span.
Toineeta has a triple-double to her name on the year and is the conference's leader in assists per game at 5.3 but has recorded more turnovers than assists in six of her last eight contests.
Tune into the broadcast coverage starting at 1:45 p.m. on 106.3 (WPFT-FM, Sevierville) in the Lakeway Region and across the map on cneagles.com/live with "The Appalachian Electric Cooperative Countdown to Tip-Off" on the Eagle Sports Network.
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