JEFFERSON CITY, Tenn. – Kayla Marosites tallied a career-high 31 points and Mika Wester picked up a career-high 11 assists to helped top-seeded Carson-Newman to a 96-85 victory in the 2018 NCAA Women's Basketball Championships Saturday evening at Holt Fieldhouse.
For the first time in 2018, a duo tallied a pair of double-doubles as Marosites went 12-for-16 from the field and made six of seven from deep to finish with 31 points and 10 rebounds for her 12th double-double of the year.
"I guess it's the tempo," Marosites assessed. "It is fast-paced. I knew they were a good team and that I had to step up. We were in a good position and knew that the third quarter was ours."
Wester scored 19 points overall in the game with 13 coming after halftime while handing out seven assists after the break. She becomes the first C-N player since Nov. 30, 2016 to record a double-double with points and assists. The 11 helpers are the most by a C-N player in the postseason in history passing Tara Beth Pyle's eight from March 5, 1998.
"I got to give a shout out to my teammates," Wester stated. "Kayla was 6-for-7 from three and that was basically six of my assists. Tori [Griffin] stepped up and hit some big three's. The tempo helped me get my assists today."
It is the second time in school history that Carson-Newman (31-2) will play for a region title when it did so in 2005 in a South Atlantic Regional Final. It is the sixth time in eight tries that the top seed in the Southeast Region advances to the region final.
The opening 10 minutes featured seven ties and seven lead changes as the Lady Eagles shot 56 percent but allowed five second-chance points as Lander went 6-for-7 at the line to hold a 26-24 edge at the end of one.
Lander held a one-point lead at 29-28 with 8:39 to play before halftime as the Bearcats rattled off seven straight over the next two minutes to push the margin to eight at 36-28. The lead reached nine points before C-N closed the gap with foul shots to 49-45 at halftime. It was the fourth time on the year that Mincey's club faced a deficit after 20 minutes.
"We knew it was going to be an up-tempo fast-pace game," Carson-Newman coach Mike Mincey said. "We tried to stick with it as long as we could in the first half. It was going to be an attrition type thing. Who was going to fight through the fatigue? We were only down by four at the half. We tried to get down there at halftime and make sure they understood that we are at home. We have a great crowd."
Breshay Johnson hit a pair of foul shots with 5:17 to go in the third quarter to put Lander on top by seven at 64-57. The Lady Eagles began to find their stroke outscoring the Bearcats 20-5 the rest of the third to go into the fourth quarter on top 77-69.
Ariana Sanders opened the fourth frame by burying a long distance dedication cut the margin to five nine seconds into the final period. Carson-Newman responded by scoring the next nine points as a stick back from Marosites expanded the bulge to a game-high 16 with 6:11 to go.
C-N made 16 of its first 22 shots in the second half going 20-for-31 overall in the second half. Lander cut the deficit to single digits with 48 seconds to play. Marosites put the finishing touches on the game by raining in a triple from the left wing with under 10 seconds to play.
It finished as the highest scoring NCAA Tournament game in program history as the team had never broken 80 prior to Saturday evening. Overall the roster shot 55 percent from the field in the game going 14-for-17 from the charity stripe.
Tori Griffin (Strawberry Plains, Tenn.) matched a season-high with 14 points in the game going 4-for-8 from beyond the arc in a career-high 22 minutes.
Katie Stubblefield (Alcoa, Tenn.) made all three of her shots from the field and scored 10 points while adding five boards in the game.
Lander won the rebounding battle by one picking up 18 offensive boards and turning that into 21 second-chance points.
Chelsea Mitchell led a group of four double-digit scorers with 19 points, nine rebounds, five steals and four assists.
Sanders finished with 15, Lea Petit added 13 off of the bench and Jecca Harris ended the night with 10 points while collecting five caroms.
Mincey's group will play third-seeded North Georgia who won on a buzzer beater against second-seeded Wingate on Monday evening at 7 p.m. The game will air on 106.3 (WPFT-FM, Sevierville, Tenn.) and on cneagles.com/live starting at 6:45 p.m.
- CN -