DAHLONEGA, Ga. – In its first road journey of the season, third-ranked Carson-Newman hits the road to the UNG Nighthawks classic to face Georgia College Friday at 4 p.m. before a clash of region finalists on Saturday versus No. 14 North Georgia at 6 p.m.
"If you want to be a championship caliber team, you have to play good competition," Carson-Newman coach Mike Mincey said. "You can't stray away from it. You have to go to it. I think that's what we've done. The kids appreciate it. They like playing in games that are very competitive like this because it's a good feeling that you are able to pull them out.
"We need to get off to better starts. We need to clean some things up in the press and certainly in our half court man. We will clean some stuff up and get some recovery going since we have a week."
Friday evening will be the sixth all-time meeting against the Bobcats with the Lady Eagles coming out on top in each of the last three since Georgia College (0-2) won the first two in 1999 and 2002.
The 2017 tussle was an historic effort for Carson-Newman (2-0) in a 115-73 thrashing of the Bobcats. Mincey's unit racked up 47 points in the third quarter marking the highest margin in a 10-minute session in Division II history passing Glenville State's mark of 43 versus West Virginia State on Jan. 14, 2017.
C-N saw 11 players register at least three points in the game. Haris Price (Gatlinburg, Tenn.) led the charge with 22 points while Briana Smith (Nashville, Tenn.), Mika Wester (Newport, Tenn.) and Kayla Marosites (Elizabethton, Tenn.) added 19, 18 and 14 respectively.
The Bobcats were slated to finish sixth in the Peach Belt Conference's preseason poll after going 14-8 in league action a year ago and three of the top six scoring options back in the fold. Friday will be the third-straight game against a school from the South Atlantic Conference losing to Wingate and Anderson to start the season.
Erin Drynan is the leading returning scorer after posting 10.7 points and nearly eight rebounds per game a year ago. She was a nonfactor in the matchup with the Lady Eagles however scoring two points in 16 minutes. The forward has scored in double figures in both outings this season.
Sydney Cleveland had 21 points and five caroms against C-N last year and has been in double digits in both games so far this season. Alyah McGriff and Ta'Asia Wright, who combined for 27 points and 18 boards have both graduated.
The featured event of the weekend comes on Saturday when the Lady Eagles face North Georgia (2-0) in a rematch of the 2018 Southeast Region title game. C-N won both meetings last year and has won six of the last seven in a series that it leads 7-4. The lone slip-up over the last decade came in 2016 in Dahlonega in a 68-59 Nighthawk win.
For the first time in program history, the Lady Eagles won a region championship winning 75-71 on March 12 at Holt Fieldhouse in an affair where they never trailed.
Kayla Marosites set a program-record with 21 rebounds on the night while Wester was named the tournament's MVP scoring a game-high 26 points and handing out five assists.
The Nighthawks were picked unanimously to win the PBC this season after winning their second regular season and first tournament crowns. Coach Buffie Burson returns three of her top four scorers from 2017-18 in All-Conference senior guards Amber Skidgel and Vanessa Agrusa and the reigning PBC Freshman of the Year Abbie Franklin.
Franklin went 8-for-11 from long range to lead the charge for North Georgia pouring in 24 points in the region title affair and Julianne Sutton stuffed the stat sheet with 12 points, six boards, five assists and four blocks.
North Georgia opened the year by throttling Emmanuel and Lees-McRae by 32 and 31 points limiting the duo to 25 percent shooting, the fourth-best clip in the country. Sutton came out of the blocks strong with 13 and a career-high 30 points to open the year.
Winners of six straight at home since falling to Columbus State on Jan. 31, 2018 by a 66-63 tally, the Nighthawks have won all four of their efforts played in the newly minted UNG Convocation Center that opened on Feb. 24.
Both affairs will be air on 106.3 (WPFT-FM) with an audio stream on cneagles.com/live starting 15 minutes prior to the opening tap. Follow @CNathletics for the latest news and notes for the weekend.
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