DAHLONEGA, Ga. – Third-ranked Carson-Newman shot 62 percent in the second half to take the lead and win a Southeast Region title rematch over 14th-ranked North Georgia 91-78 Saturday evening in the UNG Nighthawk Classic at the UNG Convocation Center.
"It was a carbon copy to the game that happened down here last year," Carson-Newman coach Mike Mincey said. "We got down early and kept fighting and trusting the process. When you get to the second half, it's always a leg situation for both teams. At one point I thought they wanted it more than us then another I thought we wanted it more. We are lucky we have really good offensive basketball players that can score that can shoot as well as they did in the second half."
It is the first road win for Carson-Newman (4-0) at a top-15 team since taking down 11th-ranked Anderson 54-51 on Jan. 21, 2016 as the Lady Eagles hand North Georgia (3-1) its first loss at its new facility in the sixth game at the arena.
After allowing the first points of the game, C-N used a 7-0 run to take a 7-3 lead and held a 13-11 edge with 5:31 to go in the opening stanza. North Georgia was able to close on a 15-6 spurt making five triples to take a 26-19 lead after 10 minutes.
The Nighthawks pushed the margin to 10 at 29-19 before C-N ripped off six unanswered to pull within four. It was 33-27 in favor of the home team with 5:41 to go before the break when C-N found its stride offensively. A 13-5 sequence capped by a driving jumper by Kelci Marosites (Elizabethton, Tenn.) put the Lady Eagles back on top 40-38.
UNG had the final possession and Amber Skidgel drained a three-pointer from the left corner to put the No. 14 team in the land ahead 41-40 at halftime. Skidgel had 13 points in the opening half as Abbie Franklin and Tamera Thorpe each added 10.
Out of the locker room, C-N started on an 8-2 run making seven of eight shots spanning the halftime break to go up 48-43. Tamera Thorpe hit a driving layup to make it 53-52 C-N with 4:47 to play in the third. The Lady Eagles exploded rattling off 11 unanswered points capped by rain-making triple from Mika Wester (Newport, Tenn.) to push the lead to 64-52.
Carson-Newman went 11-for-15 from the field in the third and a 68-59 advantage entering the fourth frame holding the Nighthawks to 40-percent shooting in the third.
North Georgia was not quite done cutting the deficit to four points at 72-68 with 6:23 to go. C-N responded by going on an 11-0 run to push the bulge to 15 at 87-72 with 1:37 to go in the game. The Nighthawks failed to score over a 3:25 span until Tamera Thorpe made a bucket with 1:14 to play. By that point, the Lady Eagles had the victory in hand.
All five starters for Mincey's unit scored in double figures as Kayla Marosites led all players with 23 points going 10-for-16 from the field with five boards.
Wester scored 15 points after halftime and put up 20 in the game going 8-for-14 from the field. Smith and Addison Byrd (Nashville, Tenn.) each had 15 points with Smith adding seven boards.
Haris Price (Gatlinburg, Tenn.) finished the game with 11 points, five boards and four assists doing most of her damage in the fourth quarter.
"We are a pressing team," Price said. "In both games [this weekend] we talked about getting out of the press and that's not what we want to do at all. In the second half, we were trying to have more ball pressure. Making them kick it out and take tough shots is where it was."
After making five of its 10 three-point attempts in the first quarter, the Nighthawks made just two of their final 21 long-distance shots.
Four members of the home team reached double figures with Thorpe notching a double-double with 18 points and 10 boards while adding five assists.
Skidgel also had 18 points but she went 6-for-26 from the field and 4-for-17 from beyond the arc. Vanessa Agrusa tallied 16 points and Abbie Franklin had 10, all in the first quarter.
In their last game before Thanksgiving, the Lady Eagles host Clayton State Tuesday evening at 6 p.m. The affair can be heard on 106.3 (WPFT-FM) and with video and audio links on cneagles.com/live starting 15 minutes prior to the opening tap.
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