Defense stymies Bears in second half as #5 C-N pulls away from L-R

VIDEO: Mike Mincey Interview

VIDEO: Haris Price Interview

HICKORY, N.C. – Despite its second-worst shooting percentage of the season, fifth-ranked Carson-Newman played lights out defense in the second half holding Lenoir-Rhyne to 28 percent shooting en route to a 73-48 South Atlantic Conference victory Saturday afternoon at Shuford Gym.

"It's one of the things over this stretch where we have won by a big margin is points off of turnovers," Carson-Newman coach Mike Mincey said. "I think it's been a lot of times over the last few games double figures for us and single digits for the opponent. We did okay in the first half but in the third quarter – our ability to score, hit the three and use our press. That third quarter was what won us the game."

The Lady Eagles forced 14 turnovers after the break and scored 15 points off of those giveaways outscoring the Bears 24-9 overall in that category. C-N turned the ball over six times in the final 34 minutes after six in the opening six minutes of the contest.

It is the 10th road victory of 2017-18 for Carson-Newman (22-1, 14-1) marking the second time since 2000 that the program has double-digit wins away from home as the 2009-10 team went 11-4.

The win snaps a three-game losing streak in Hickory for Mincey's unit as the last time Lenoir-Rhyne (12-11, 6-9) lost at home to C-N was Dec. 14, 2013. It is also the first regular-season sweep for the Lady Eagles since the 2007-08 campaign.

With L-R down by a deuce and 5:12 to play in the opening quarter, C-N ripped off 10 straight points over two-and-a-half minutes to make it 20-8 on a layup from Katie Stubblefield (Alcoa, Tenn.) capped the scoring spurt. C-N scored just one field the rest of the stanza to hold a 22-12 lead after 10 minutes.

The Bears opened the second quarter with four unanswered points to make it a six-point game at 22-16. The Lady Eagles scored 10 of the next 13 to expand the margin to 13 at 32-19 halfway through the period. Mincey's team failed to score over the final 2:59 and went into the locker room ahead by 10 at 40-30.

The scoring drought extended over the first 3:12 of the third quarter as Briana Smith (Nashville, Tenn.) hit a 15-foot right baseline jumper. It started a 10-0 sequence over the next 76 seconds to increase the bulge to 17 at 50-33 with 5:32 to play in the third stanza. Overall C-N outscored the Bears 24-6 to close out the quarter to make it a 64-39 game entering the fourth.

Carson-Newman produced its lowest scoring output of the season in the fourth quarter with just nine points going the final 5:50 without a bucket. Lenoir-Rhyne countered by going over seven minutes without a bucket as each team tallied nine points in the frame.

The Bears mustered just 18 points in the second half, the lowest scored by a C-N foe on the year passing the 21 at Queens on Dec. 13.

Kayla Marosites (Elizabethton, Tenn.) recorded her ninth double-double of the season with 21 points and 12 rebounds in 30 minutes of action.

Haris Price (Gatlinburg, Tenn.) ended the day with 17 points and six assists while matching a career-high with seven steals. She went 6-for-10 from the field.

"The last two times we came over here we coughed it up," Price assessed. "We knew coming into it we probably wouldn't shoot well so it's going to have to come from the defensive side. I think we did a good job of executing that."

Mika Wester (Newport, Tenn.) had 17 points and six assists and Smith finished with 12 points and three assists.

Jackie Denny was the only player to finish in double figures for the Bears with 12 points and six rebounds, most of which came in the first half.

Kendal Toineeta registered seven points, six assists and three steals while Madi Suddreth cleared eight caroms.

Carson-Newman takes the midweek off before returning to action next Saturday at Holt Fieldhouse against Queens (N.C.) at 2 p.m. The Eagles Sports Network will have the call on 106.3 (WPFT-FM, Sevierville) and on starting at 1:45 p.m.

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