JEFFERSON CITY, Tenn. – Having lost two of its last three games, 20th-ranked Carson-Newman returns home looking to extend a 27-game winning home winning streak Wednesday night at 6 p.m. against South Atlantic Conference for Lenoir-Rhyne.
"Our schedule has been very difficult," Carson-Newman coach Mike Mincey said. "Last year in our remarkable run we started the same five guys in 35 straight games which is almost unheard of. I try to take that into consideration that we have played a tougher schedule and have had to shuffle the lineup.
"There's no panic button. We are 6-2 right now. We have a lot of work to do but we have 20 more regular season games and they are all going to be very important."
Senior guard Briana Smith (Nashville, Tenn.) enters the gym Wednesday 13 points shy of 1,000 for her career looking to become the 21st player in program history to hit that threshold. She has averaged double figures since the beginning of her sophomore season and has 50 double-digit scoring efforts.
Carson-Newman (6-2, 1-1) has won four straight in the series to hold a 44-28 all-time lead over Lenoir-Rhyne (5-3, 1-1) as the teams get set for the 73rd all-time meeting. The current winning streak is the longest for the Lady Eagles since 2006-07 and a win on Wednesday would be the first five-game string over the Bears since winning 15 in-a-row from 1981-95.
During the streak, Mincey's crew has won by seven, 12 twice and 25 eliminating coach Cameron Sealey's crew from the SAC Tournament on Feb. 28 despite its worst shooting performance at home in two seasons. C-N was held to 37 percent shooting but trailed for only 16 seconds.
Kayla Marosites (Elizabethton, Tenn.) averaged a double-double over the three affairs last year registering 15 points and almost 11 boards per night. In fact, the Lady Eagles big four scored in double figures in each outing averaging 64 points making 48 percent of its shots from the field and 40 percent from beyond the arc.
Led by Madi Suddreth, Lenoir-Rhyne was slotted for seventh in the preseason coaches' poll. The forward made 52 percent of her shots and finished eighth on the ledger with just shy of 15 points per game a season ago. This season, the senior is leading the team with 14 points per game making 52 percent once again from the field.
Over the last two seasons, the Bears have been excellent on the road going 10-4 including starting this season with 2-0 mark away from Hickory. This year, the Bears are shooting just 35 percent from the field and posting nearly 10 points fewer in road affairs.
Sealey's squad has won three consecutive games, the third-longest mark in the league, and will not play another game for 10 days after leaving Mossy Creek.
The strongest area for the Bears this year has been field-goal percentage defense ranking 27th in the nation by yielding a 34-percent shooting clip. Six teams have been held below 35 percent in a game this year. Lander is the only team to win a game in that case shooting 33 percent to open the year. In the other two losses, USC Aiken shot 51 percent and Newberry notched a 47 percent clip.
Outside of that category, L-R is in the middle of the pack in nearly every statistic except free-throw percentage ranking sixth in the country at 81 percent and the assist areas. The unit is turning it over at 18 times per game to rank fifth with at least 15 giveaways in all but two outings this year.
Senior guard Kendall Toineeta is producing one of the better all-around seasons in the league averaging 14 points, six assists, four rebounds, two steals while shooting 47 percent from the floor, 48 from deep and 94 at the line. She is ninth in the nation in free-throw percentage and 16th in America in assists per game. Last season, C-N did the job defensively against Toineeta limiting to her single digits twice as she went 12-for-27 from the field.
Broadcast coverage can be found in audio form on 106.3 (WPFT-FM) and in both audio and visual options on cneagles.com/live beginning at 5:45 p.m. with "The AEC Countdown to Tip-Off" on the Eagle Sports Network.
- CN -