JEFFERSON CITY, Tenn. – When third-ranked Carson-Newman and Clayton State hit the hardwood Tuesday evening at 6 p.m. inside of Holt Fieldhouse, it will be the first meeting since 2009 for a pair of clubs with a long history of tight games.
Tuesday evening's meeting will be the first between Carson-Newman (4-0) and Clayton State (2-1) this decade and eighth overall as the Lakers lead 4-3 all-time. Four of the outings have been decided by two points or less including each of the last three while three of the contests have come in the NCAA Tournament.
The last meeting between the two clubs on Dec. 12, 2009 when the Lady Eagles took down the eighth-ranked team in the country on its home floor. Tanisha Woodard hit a game-tying three-pointer with three seconds to go before C-N's Ashley Kyle was fouled with no time remaining on the clock. The guard knocked down a trio of foul shots with the clock expired to give the Lady Eagles a 65-62 upset win.
Mandy Mendenhall finished with a team-high 21 points as Kyle chipped in 14. Shari Buford and Zoriah Williams each had a double-double with 14 points and 13 rebounds and 14 points and 12 boards respectively.
The only time the two programs have played in Jefferson City came on Nov. 17, 2017 when the Lakers escaped with a 68-67 victory. After trailing by as many as 14, C-N took a 67-66 lead on a foul shot from Buford with one minute to play. Lynette Jackson hit the eventual game-winner with 20 seconds to go on a driving layup.
Buford ended the night with nine points and 10 boards. Three Lady Eagles finished in double figures led by 18 points and seven rebounds from Ashley Tipton.
Clayton State is picked to finish seventh in the preseason Peach Belt standings but it has been a quality start to the year with wins over Wingate and Anderson, the two teams picked directly below C-N in the South Atlantic Conference coaches' poll. However the team was upended by Callie Patterson's buzzer-beating three-pointer Friday evening.
"I don't think I have played Clayton since I became the head coach," Carson-Newman coach Mike Mincey said. "They have two wins over SAC schools with Tusculum taking them out the other night. It really tests you early in the season. If they keep playing the way they are playing they are going to be in the regional talk. This is gauntlet of very, very difficult games for us and if we can come out of it unscathed we are going to feel really good about ourselves."
Kaleena Coleman's club is facing a top five team for the first time since Nov. 21, 2014 when second-ranked Nova Southeastern won 72-64. Overall, Clayton State is 30-42 all-time against ranked teams and 4-8 against teams ranked in the top five. The Lakers are 3-0 all-time against teams ranked third beating third-ranked USC Aiken 56-50 on Jan. 16, 2013 in its last effort. One of those triumphs came against third-ranked Michigan Tech, 69-50, in the 2011 National Championship Game.
From a look at the numbers, the team is in the bottom 100 of nearly every category except steals and turnovers forced picking up 12 pilfers per game, 33rd in Division II, and forcing 24 giveaways per night, 25th in the country. The unit is giving the ball away 20 times per game when on offense, amongst the worst numbers in the nation.
Clayton State is being outrebounded by an average of seven per game and scoring just 62 points per game converting 38 percent of its shots. There are only eight teams with a worse free-throw percentage than the 53-percent margin that the Lakers are sporting to start the year.
Taneria Wilson is 23rd in the country with 12 steals to begin the year and is the team's leader in scoring with 13 per night. The junior guard is coming off of a 19-point effort Friday night and highly efficient making 60 percent of her shot attempts to begin the year. Madison Newby and Velencia Johnson add to the double figure scoring threats with 12 and 10 apiece.
Air time on the Eagle Sports Network is 5:45 p.m. with "The AEC Countdown to Tip-Off" on 106.3 (WPFT-FM) and on cneagles.com/live with audio and video streams available.
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