BEAVERTON, Ore. – After a historic ride in 2017-18, the 2018-19 campaign sees high expectations for Carson-Newman as Division II Bulletin announced its preseason rankings Tuesday morning with the Lady Eagles ranked third in the preseason poll.
The only teams ranked above C-N are Ashland and Central Missouri. It was the Jennies that upset the top team in the country and halted Ashland's Division II record 73-game winning streak with a 66-52 win in Sioux Falls, S.D.
The Lady Eagles peaked at No. 3 in the polls in 2017-18, doing so for three weeks, spending the final 14 weeks inside of the top 10 in America and nine as a top-five team in the WBCA poll. Prior to 2017-18, teams from the league had spent a total of seven weeks in the coaches poll ranked in the top five as Presbyterian was in it for five weeks in 1999-00.
The Southeast Region champions beat North Georgia in the region title game to advance to the Elite Eight for the first time in history of the program. Carson-Newman finished the year ranked fifth in the country, the highest ever mark by a SAC school.
A year ago, Mike Mincey's team set the South Atlantic Conference record for wins in a season with 32, besting the prior mark by four games. The team also set marks for points (3,180), points per game (90.9) and assists (702).
Returning four starters, C-N has 86 percent (2,726) of its scoring returning from a season ago including each of its top four point producers. In terms of minutes, the team's fifth and sixth players on the ledger have graduated in forwards Jecca Simerly and Katie Stubblefield.
For the first time as a Division II program, the school had a pair of All-Americans on the same roster in Haris Price (Gatlinburg, Tenn.) and Mika Wester (Newport, Tenn.). Price was named to the publication's Super 16 as one of the top 16 players in the country after being the SAC Co-Player of the Year and first-team All-American. Wester was on the honorable mention portion after being named the SAC Tournament MVP and NCAA Region Tournament MVP.
Of note, North Georgia was ranked 17th in the rankings as C-N will get the Nighthawks on Nov. 17 at 6 p.m. on the road in a rematch. Wingate took the last spot ranked 25th in the country. The Bulldogs will host the Lady Eagles on Dec. 1 and visit Mossy Creek on Jan. 26 for 2 p.m. tips.
The team will be given its rings on Friday evening in a private ceremony with the entire squad honored during Saturday's homecoming football game against Mars Hill. Kick-off is slated for 3 p.m. from Burke-Tarr Stadium.
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