JEFFERSON CITY, Tenn. – After winning the Southeast Region and advancing to the Elite Eight last year, Carson-Newman coach Mike Mincey unveiled a 2018-19 slate that features a road-heavy first semester and a home-heavy second semester Thursday afternoon.
While the regular season opens inside of the friendly confines of Holt Fieldhouse, only two of the next 11 games on the docket will be played at Mossy Creek. Conversely, once the calendar flips to 2019, the Lady Eagles will play at home in nine of the final 15 contests of the year.
The longest homestand of the year comes from Jan. 19-30 with three games as the team will play five of six games during the first and second months of the calendar year at home.
"I feel like if there is a year where we have to play a schedule like that especially in the first semester it would be this year's team with all of the experience we have coming back," Carson-Newman coach Mike Mincey said. "If we can get through that first semester in good shape then we can get into that second semester and have a lot of games at home."
Mincey's group has won 24 straight games inside of Holt Fieldhouse dating back to its last loss on Jan. 7, 2017, an 80-75 setback in overtime against Wingate. During the streak, the Lady Eagles have outscored their opponents by an average of 26 points per game with only three games being decided by single digits. In 2017-18, C-N averaged 97.2 points per game at Holt Fieldhouse and shot 49 percent from the floor scoring at least 100 points in nine of the 17 contests.
C-N will play two exhibition games against Division blue bloods starting on Nov. 1 with a visit to face Sylvia Hatchell, a former Lady Eagle, and her North Carolina Tar Heels. Two years ago, the Lady Eagles held a 52-50 lead with 4:19 to play in the third quarter at Carmichael Arena before falling 96-70.
A few days later on Nov. 5, a trip to Knoxville to face Tennessee finishes the early season testing for C-N. Last year, the stage was set for the highest scoring team in South Atlantic Conference history as the Lady Eagles posted their highest tally in 30 meetings against the Lady Vols with 76.
"Playing Carolina and Tennessee obviously is always exciting for our program," Mincey mentioned. "It gives us good notoriety especially the Tennessee game being right down the road with as many local players as we have. This year is different. We have a huge target on our back. We want to go be competitive but the kids also enjoy the experience."
Continuing the early season tradition that began in 2014-15, the first two opponents of the year will be USC Aiken and Lander as the Lady Eagles will host this year's iteration of the SAC/Peach Belt Challenge. C-N is 7-1 in the first eight games with the lone loss coming on Nov. 12, 2016 to 21st-ranked Lander in Harrogate, Tenn.
The second weekend of the year starts with Georgia College on Nov. 16 in the UNG Nighthawk Classic before the stage is set for a rematch of the 2018 Southeast Region title game against North Georgia. C-N won in Dahlonega during the regular season 94-90 before sealing a four-point win over the Nighthawks to advance to the Elite Eight.
Before Thanksgiving, the Lady Eagles host Clayton State for the 10th all-time meeting. After the break, Mincey's crew heads to the Peach State for a contest with Columbus State.
"I think this is probably one of the more challenging schedules that we've had since I've been head coach," Mincey stated. "In terms of teams that we have to go play on the road that are very good teams and they are going to be highly ranked in their own conferences. It's a good challenge early on."
The conference schedule opens with road trips to the only two teams that beat the Lady Eagles during the 2017-18 regular season. Lincoln Memorial ignites the SAC slate as Carson-Newman looks for a win in Harrogate for the first time since 2012. Wingate handed the Lady Eagles their first loss of the year last season as C-N opens the December register in the Tar Heel State.
"It's going to let us know where we are at early on," Mincey explained. "The good thing about it is if somehow or rather you get out of those games with wins – that's huge early in the season and you go into the second part of the year feeling good about yourself."
After a home game against Lenoir-Rhyne, Mincey's crew takes on King in a non-conference affair as the final four efforts of 2018 come on the road. The last non-conference outing of the season is slated for Dec. 29 at Shorter.
To start the 2019 year, seven of the first 10 games are pinned to be inside of Holt Fieldhouse starting with Catawba and Anderson.
Three of the final five games of the year are on the road. A home game against Queens on Feb. 23 will be senior day as the regular season concludes away from home with a trek to Newberry on March 2.
Each game during the 2018-19 campaign can be heard on the Eagle Sports Network's flagship station Mountain Country 106.3 WPFT-FM with home outings available on cneagles.com/live with a high definition video feed. In the meantime be sure to follow @CNathletics and @CNwbasketball on Twitter for the most recent updates before the season tips off in Chapel Hill, N.C. on Nov. 1 at 6 p.m.
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