JEFFERSON CITY, Tenn. – After playing nine of its last 11 games on the road, Carson-Newman opens 2019 with a Saturday afternoon, 2 p.m., affair against South Atlantic Conference foe Catawba starting a string of seven of the next 10 games at Mossy Creek.
The last time the Lady Eagles laced it up at Holt Fieldhouse was on Dec. 5, 2018 when the club saw the nation's sixth-longest home winning streak of 27 games come to a screeching halt in a 78-75 loss to Lenoir-Rhyne. Since the setback, Carson-Newman (10-3, 3-2) has earned wins in four consecutive outings, the second-longest active mark in the league.
Defensively, the team has not allowed any of the last four teams to shot better than 40 percent as collectively those clubs shot 33 percent (85-for-254) and averaging 55 points per game after clubs has posted a 39 percent shooting clip and 78 points per game through the first nine contests.
"I think it's a combination of the teams we have played plus we have moved better defensively," Carson-Newman coach Mike Mincey said. "When you are getting stops, it's going to make it easier at the offensive end. We got runouts and easy layups."
C-N has taken better care of the basketball as well registering 11.8 giveaways over the last four after starting the season with more than 16 per game. Teams were scoring 19 points per game off of turnovers through the first nine but are at an average of nine since.
Saturday's contest is the 67th all-time meeting between the two programs as Catawba (7-4, 2-2) leads the series 37-29. The Lady Eagles have won each of the last four and have not lost since Feb. 6, 2016, an 82-78 setback at Holt Fieldhouse.
The program has never won five straight games against the Indians as the current winning streak is the longest for C-N in the history of the series tied with the opening four games in 1990-91.
A season ago, the Lady Eagles ran the Indians out of the gym winning by 28 and 31 racking up 27 points off of turnovers in each of the two contests. C-N spread the wealth with Haris Price (Gatlinburg, Tenn.) tallying 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.
First-year coach Terrence Baxter's crew began the year 2-3 but has won five of its last six since the start of December. The lone loss in that time came at Wingate on Dec. 19, an 83-63 defeat at Cuddy Arena.
"They have a new starting lineup," Mincey said. "Those guys are playing well and averaging about 70 a game. With their athleticism, it is going to give us problems. Offensive rebounding is what they do the best and we have to keep it at one-and-done, don't turn the ball over and hopefully we shot the ball better in our home gym than we did in the first semester."
The Indians have been comfortable at home as one of the 62 teams to be undefeated inside of its home facility but the squad is 2-3 on the road. Despite scoring 76 points per game at home, Catawba is scoring just 61 points per game on the road and shooting 32 percent from the field and 22 from long range.
Overall, the team is one of the worst shooting units in America converting 37 percent of its field-goal attempts to rank 250th. However, Catawba is scooping 16 offensive rebounds per game to rank 15th.
While the Indians are turning the ball over 19 times per game, 237th nationally, they are forcing nearly 22 giveaways per game, the 34th-best clip in Division II on the season.
DeShazo is the team's leading scorer at 14.4 points per night as one of three players in double figures on the season. She played 40 total minutes against C-N last season and went 1-for-11 from the field. The forward is notching eight boards per night and is seventh in free-throw attempts.
There are three broadcast options for Saturday's affair thanks to the work of the Eagle Sports Network. Mountain Country 106.3 WPFT-FM is the radio home in the Lakeway region while audio and video streams are available on cneagles.com/live beginning at 1:45 p.m. with "The Appalachian Electric Cooperative Countdown to Tip-Off".
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