GREENEVILLE, Tenn. – Despite one of its worst shooting performances of the year, Carson-Newman made key plays down the stretch to hold off Tusculum 75-70 in a South Atlantic Conference battle that featured 16 lead changes and seven ties Wednesday night at Pioneer Arena.
"I am very proud," Carson-Newman coach Mike Mincey said. "I knew it was going to be a very difficult battle coming up here to Tusculum and the way that they play. I am very proud of our bench in the first half. We had 11 turnovers, 10 of them were from the starters.
"I knew when we were up six with three minutes to go – I turned to Tatum [Burstrom] and said this is going to define our season because a loss here would have really put us behind the eight ball. A win on the road, in this conference the way they are playing, teams are going to have a hard time winning here."
Winners of six straight on the road, Carson-Newman (13-4, 6-3) has won each of the last five meetings against Tusculum (11-3, 4-3) and 10 of the last 11. The Pioneers watch their seven-game winning streak come to an end having lost six straight at home in the series.
Going against the top three-point percentage defense in the country, the Lady Eagles went 12-for-26 from long range while making just 12 of 44 attempts inside the arc.
Haris Price (Gatlinburg, Tenn.) made two foul technical foul shots to begin the game before the clock started before C-N started the game 1-for-13 from the field. Tusculum could not run away leading by only six before the Lady Eagles made four of their final six to take a 14-12 lead after 10 minutes thanks to a triple from Price.
Mincey's side saw the offense hit another holding pattern in the second quarter going over four minutes without points to fall behind 23-18 with 3:03 to go before the break. C-N answered by draining a three straight triples, two from Kelci Marosites (Elizabethton, Tenn.) and one from Ashton Wykle (Greeneville, Tenn.), to go on top 27-25 with 1:33 on the clock.
"It's been a long road especially with the knee stuff," Wykle said. "It felt good because I'm coming up on the surgery date so it's nice to get over that hump. Hopefully it carries over but for the most part I'm trying to cheer my team on and be as helpful to my team no matter what that role is."
Jasmine Williams made two short jumpers to take a 29-27 lead for Tusculum into the locker room. Carson-Newman shot 25 percent in the first half scoring 12 points off of turnovers while the Pioneers hit 37 percent of their attempts.
Out of the break, the home group made five of their first six shots from the field extending the lead to eight at 42-34 with 7:32 to go in the frame thanks to a right wing triple from Jalia Arnwine. Carson-Newman had the jab back again rattling off a 12-2 run to take a 46-44 edge thanks to a long distance jumper from Wykle. The Lady Eagles maintained the lead taking a 51-50 advantage to the fourth.
After Tusculum took a 53-51 lead, C-N responded by scoring eight unanswered after Price went out of the game with an injury going on top 59-53 with 8:04 to go on a three-pointer from Kayla Marosites (Elizabethton, Tenn.).
The Pioneers closed the gap to two at 61-59 with 4:11 to go only to see C-N score the next seven unanswered. A top-of-the-key triple from Callie Patterson made it a three-point game at 71-68 with 28 seconds to go but the visitors made foul shots to seal a win.
Kayla Marosites picked up her 11th double-double of the season finishing with 22 points and 13 rebounds in 31 minutes of play.
Briana Smith (Nashville, Tenn.) scored 10 of her 16 points over the final 10 minutes of action adding seven boards, three assists and three steals.
Price joined the duo in double figures with 18 points and a couple blocks in her 26 minutes on the floor while Addison Byrd (Nashville, Tenn.) piled up a career-high nine caroms.
Tusculum entered the game averaging 28 points off of turnovers but C-N won the category getting 26 off of 19 giveaways compared to 18 from the Pioneers.
The Lady Eagles did see 11 of their shots get blocked as Tusculum became the first team in 319 games and 3,688 days to record double-digit blocks when No. 1 Northern Kentucky had 10 on Dec. 13, 2008.
Patterson led the home team in scoring with 16 points, five rebounds and five assists. Mia Long needed 15 shots to get 15 points adding seven rebounds, four steals and three assists. Kendrea Duke provided 12 points on six of eight shooting.
The Lady Eagles tee it up again on Saturday returning to Holt Fieldhouse for a 2 p.m. opening tip against 25th-ranked Newberry seeking their second win over a top 25 team this season.
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