HICKORY, N.C. – Winners of six straight road games, Carson-Newman packs its bags for a Saturday afternoon South Atlantic Conference battle with Lenoir-Rhyne as the clubs play at 2 p.m. opening the shortest month on the calendar.
The Lady Eagles have been excellent on the road this year sporting an 8-2 mark away from home. Another win would be the second-highest win total in Mincey's eight-year tenure behind last season's 11. The six-game winning streak is tied for the 13th-longest active mark in the country.
A victory would tie the 2017-18 team's seven-game winning streak for the second-longest this decade. During the 2009-10 campaign, Carson-Newman (15-5, 8-4) reeled off nine in-a-row from Nov 28 through Jan. 20. Those years are the only two occasions where the program has recorded double-digit road victories.
"Being a good road team is something that you want to hang your hat on," Carson-Newman coach Mike Mincey said. "This year we have been almost better on the road than we have been at home. I've been proud of our kids. When we go on the road, they take it on themselves where sometimes its hostile environments sometimes there is no one there. They bring their own energy and play well. When you go on the road, you won't have your own fans."
From an offensive standpoint, there isn't a category that is glaringly better on the road but the team is posting eight more rebounds, four offensive, in away affairs. Opponents are shooting 35 percent from the field and 25 from long range in those games. Only Tusculum has shot better than 40 percent but the Pioneers settled for 5-for-20 shooting from three.
Mincey's crew has turned in 10 consecutive games with at least 20 points off of turnovers after producing just four such games through the opening half of the season. Foes are averaging just shy of 20 giveaways per game during that stretch, three more than the first half of the year, with no fewer than 15. The longest streak of 2017-18 was 12 games.
Sweeping LMU feels too good �� pic.twitter.com/HamrakiPjL— Carson-Newman Athletics (@CNathletics) January 31, 2019
Lenoir-Rhyne (10-9, 5-6) scored a victory at Holt Fieldhouse on Dec. 5 to hand the Lady Eagles their third loss in four games. The Bears registered the best shooting day of any Eagle opposition this season making 48 percent of their shots from the field while going 20-for-22 from the foul line.
It ended Carson-Newman's program-record 27-game home winning streak as Madi Suddreth finished the game with 30 points and seven rebounds going 10-for-17 from the field. Between Suddreth, Kendall Toineeta and Karlie Bearden, the trio went 22-for-39 from the field while the rest of the team went 5-for-17 in the game.
"They beat us in our gym," Mincey said. "That's enough respect that you have to give right there. They played us well both times they played us over here. We had a decent game over there, got a decent win in terms of margin of victory. I don't think they played very well at all which aided in the margin of victory. It's always been a tough place to play. They are very fundamental and very sound. They play hard and play together."
Entering the weekend, coach Cam Sealey's team is in seventh in the league standings, a half game ahead of Catawba. The unit is 4-5 since beating C-N having lost two of its last three. Take away the win over the Lady Eagles and the Bears have not beaten a team above them on the table.
Despite being the third-best free-throw shooting team in the nation, L-R is sixth in the league in field-goal percentage and seventh in three-point efficiency. The Bears are 6-2 when shooting at least 40 percent from the floor and 4-7 when it's below that figure.
In almost every other statistical category, Lenoir-Rhyne is middle of the pack to the bottom as the team is coming off of a month where it posted just 65 points per game. In the four losses, the Bears were no closer than eight points.
Suddreth continues to pace the Bears as one of two players in double figures on the year with 15 per game, good for seventh in the league. She leads the league in field-goal percentage at 53 percent having made more than half of her attempts in every month and every setting.
Toineeta continues to be a well-rounded guarded with 12 points per game while ranking 17th in the country with 100 assists on the year. She is second in the league with 47 steals. However, despite two 25-point efforts in January she has been limited to single digits in six of her last eight games.
Tune into the broadcast coverage starting at 1:45 p.m. on 106.3 (WPFT-FM, Sevierville) in the Lakeway Region and across the map on cneagles.com/live with "The Appalachian Electric Cooperative Countdown to Tip-Off" on the Eagle Sports Network.
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