Lady Eagles picked to repeat as SAC Champions

Lady Eagles picked to repeat as SAC Champions

VIDEO: Mike Mincey Interview

ROCK HILL, S.C. – After the most successful year in the history of the South Atlantic Conference, Carson-Newman was picked to win the league's regular-season title in 2018-19 announced by the league Wednesday afternoon.

This is the first season in the history of the program that the Lady Eagles are selected to win the SAC since the league started voting prior to the 2006-07 campaign. There were three occasions where the squad was picked second doing so in 2007-08, 2009-10 and 2010-11.

"Whatever our work ethic was last year, how hard we worked in the summer and in preseason, we are going to have to notch it up," Carson-Newman coach Mike Mincey said. "For about half the season last year we kind of snuck up on people. This year the bullseye is much, much bigger on our back. For our program, it's been a while since we have been in this scenario where we are the defending champs. Every game people are going to bring their best.

"We have talked about it a lot. They understand that we are going to have bring it every day in practice and certainly every game. You can't have a bad day because most teams we play are going to play one of their best games because of who they are playing."

A year ago, the unit won a winner-take-all regular-season finale over Wingate to secure its fourth regular season crown and followed that up by taking down the Bulldogs in the tournament title game to seal its second postseason league championship. Carson-Newman had not been on top in the SAC since 1997-98 in the regular season and since 2005 in the tournament.

Mincey's team set the South Atlantic Conference record for wins in a season with 32, besting the prior mark by four games. The group also set marks for points (3,180), points per game (90.9) and assists (702).

In terms of program records, the 2017-18 club reset marks in 14 different categories including the wins and points tally above and adding scoring margin (23.5), made three-pointers in a season (315), team free-throw percentage (78) among others.

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.

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.

"Those were two key cogs to our team," Mincey said. "We have four returning starters back. We are still looking for that fifth starter. I think getting our rotation is really key to figure out how deep we are going to go. Last we finished up playing seven. I would rather go a little more than that. We have 15 healthy bodies and 15 people that can play."

Haris Price (Gatlinburg, Tenn.) and Mika Wester (Newport, Tenn.) were named All-Americans by the WBCA for their work as juniors and are back to lead the squad in 2018-19. Price was the league's co-player of the year and Wester took home MVP honors in the SAC Tournament and the NCAA Southeast Region Tournament.

The WBCA preseason coaches' poll comes out on Nov. 5 and C-N expects to be one of the top teams in the nation being ranked third in the D2Bulletin top 25. Last season, the Lady Eagles were ranked as high as third in the country while spending 14 weeks in the top 10 and nine in the top five of the WBCA poll.

The predictions held serve from the final standings from last year as Wingate received C-N's first-place vote and Anderson was tabbed for third. Each team has big shoes to fill from last year however.

The Bulldogs were one-game behind the Eagles in the table and was second in the region a year ago but will have to replace SAC Co-Player of the Year Marta Miscenko. Ann Hancock does return a pair of preseason first-team All-SAC performers in Caroline Averette and Danasia Witherspoon.

Anderson, Carson-Newman's first-round opponent, has to replace the SAC's Defensive Player of the Year in Alexis Dillard. Preseason second-team pick Alexy Mollenhauer leads the returning group.

Tusculum edged out Lincoln Memorial for fourth in the projections as each of its top five scorers paced by Sydney Wilson's 14.2 points per outing. Preseason second-team pick Kasey Johnson posted 12 points and nearly seven boards a year ago.

The Railsplitters are looking to replace one of the most efficient scorers in the conference in Shea Coker, a second-team all-league pick.

Newberry placed a pair of athletes on the first-team All-SAC roster but was selected to finish sixth this season. Meg Essex finished fourth in the conference in scoring at 17 points per game shooting 52 percent from the floor. Shelby Britten was not too far behind at 15 points on average.

Led by Madi Suddreth, Lenoir-Rhyne is slotted for seventh. The forward made 52 percent of her shots and finished eighth on the ledger with just shy of 15 points per game.

Catawba has big shoes to fill in perennial first-team All-SAC honoree Terri Rogers and 2018 second-team selection Serena Brown. Sophomore Taisha DeShazo is the team's leading point producer after posting seven as a rookie.

Coker was picked ninth and Queens and Mars Hill, two teams that won just one game a year ago, were predicted for the bottom of the table.

The Lady Eagles hit the floor for the first time tomorrow afternoon against North Carolina in an exhibition. Tip-off Thursday evening is slated for 6 p.m. from Carmichael Arena. Pregame coverage starts at 5:45 p.m. on and 106.3 (WPFT-FM).


School (First-Place Votes)



Carson-Newman (10)



Wingate (1)









Lincoln Memorial


















Mars Hill


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