JEFFERSON CITY, Tenn. – Looking to avenge one of its two losses on the year, top-seeded Carson-Newman plays fourth-seeded Lincoln Memorial Saturday at noon inside of Timmons Arena looking to advance to the South Atlantic Conference's championship game for the first time since 2007.
"They did a good job up there," Carson-Newman coach Mike Mincey said. "We have tried to spin it to where that did us more good than harm in terms of that loss. It exposed us in many ways. Our defense wasn't very good. The effort wasn't very good. LMU took it to us and they beat us up there. It's a good thing having won both games. It's a rubber match. We know that it's going to be a tough game."
Haris Price (Gatlinburg, Tenn.) has had her way with the Railsplitters scoring 38 and 27 respectively in the two meetings. The SAC Co-Player of the Year 21-for-36 from the field with eight three-pointers in those games.
Mika Wester (Newport, Tenn.) has not been far behind with 25 and 18 points through two meetings making over 50 percent of her shots from the field against LMU on the year.
Carson-Newman (27-2) is looking to snap a seven-game losing streak in the SAC semifinals as the last win came on March 3, 2007, a 78-69 triumph over top-seeded Wingate. Overall, the program is 5-12 in the semifinal round advancing to the title in 1995, 1998, 1999, 2005 and 2007.
The matchup will be the 16th time in the history of the league that the No. 1 and No. 4 seeds play as the top seed holds an 11-4 advantage. Four seeds picked up wins in 1992, 1999, 2007 and 2010.
A victory for the Lady Eagles would match the conference record for wins in a season with Wingate (1990-91), Presbyterian (1999-00) and Lincoln Memorial (2016-17). It would match the second-most wins by a C-N team in the history of the program (28 in 1979-80 and 32 in 1984-85).
The top seed in the league has advanced to the championship game in each of the last seven seasons but has lost in the final in each of the last four campaigns. Anderson was the last regular season champion to take home the tournament title doing so with a 55-52 win over sixth-seeded Tusculum on March 10, 2013.
The last time a No. 1 seed failed to reach the title game came in 2010 when Lenoir-Rhyne was bounced by fourth-seeded Tusculum 77-63 as the Pioneers went onto win their first of two trophies.
SAC Co-Player of the Year - @HarisJordan ✅— C-N Athletics (@CNathletics) March 1, 2018
SAC Coach of the Year - @MikeMincey ✅
4⃣ All-SAC performers ✅@Mika_Wester, @KaylaMarosites and @bri_swish help @CNwbasketball clean up all-league honors.
�� https://t.co/irG6dckvIA pic.twitter.com/IlJuN0wkuz
Saturday is the 81st meeting between the two programs with C-N on top 47-33 with the game being just the second meeting in the history of the SAC Tournament. Lincoln Memorial (18-10) has won all three postseason meetings The Railsplitters won 88-74 win on Feb. 25, 1989 and 86-78 win on Feb. 27, 1990 on their home floor the NAIA District 26 Tournament.
Last year the two teams tangled in opposite roles with LMU holding the top seed and having the Player of the Year in the league. C-N trailed by 11 entering the fourth and closed the margin to a deuce with 48 ticks to play before falling 72-67.
Wester led all scorers in the game with 19 points while posting three assists in 36 minutes. Kailyn Brooks notched 15 points making a trio of triples moving into 11th place on the school's scoring list with 1,197 in her career.
Karsen Sims led the top seed with 18 points going 8-for-13 from the field as Shea Coker added 14 points. Josey Harding finished the game with a double-double going for 15 points and 13 rebounds.
The 'Splitters are riding the longest winning streak in the league with five straight victories. LMU is 12-2 at home this year but 6-8 in road and neutral contests. The team scored 77 points per game at home on the year but averaged 70 points away from Tex Turner Arena on the season.
Qua Hines was named the SAC Freshman of the Year, the first in LMU's history. Hines led a group of six double-digit scorers for her team in its upset win over third-ranked C-N last Wednesday. She made all six foul shots but went 6-for-14 from the field in the contest.
In two meetings, the Railsplitters have led for a total of 41:27 against C-N. In the other 27 games of the year, the Lady Eagles have been behind on the scoreboard for a total of 67:54. Mincey's team has trailed by double figures in three games this season including the LMU win on Feb. 21 when it faced its largest deficit of 19.
Two of three best shooting performances allowed by C-N this season have come against LMU, a 51.6 clip at Holt Fieldhouse on Jan. 17 and a 51.5 margin on Feb. 21. It is a 'Splitters group that is seventh in the SAC in field-goal percentage offense at 41 percent. The team is slightly ahead of the Lady Eagles in offensive rebounding ranking 10th in the country with 17 caroms per night.
For the Eagle Sports Network's coverage, fans can tune into 106.3 (WPFT-FM) and cneagles.com/live starting at 11:45 a.m. with "The AEC Countdown to Tip-Off". The game can also be seen using the ESPN app.
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