ANDERSON, S.C. – With the South Atlantic Conference regular-season championship unofficially secured, 18th-ranked Anderson, winners of 19 straight games, is next on Carson-Newman's docket with a 6 p.m. tip-off slated for Wednesday night inside of the Abney Athletic Center.
"Just like us last year they have the continuity of starting the same five guys all year long," Carson-Newman coach Mike Mincey said. "They have a rotation that they are comfortable with. They are doing a really good job, when they find themselves in close ball games, they find a way to make enough plays down the stretch to win those games. They are winning them all by 25 or 30 points. They have been tested here of late. They have proven to be the team to beat in our league and in our region by how they finish out games."
The Lady Eagles have been excellent on the road this year sporting a 9-2, including seven straight, 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 seven-game winning streak is tied for the 10th-longest active mark in the country.
A victory would pass the 2017-18 team's seven-game winning streak for the second-longest this decade. During the 2009-10 campaign, Carson-Newman (18-5, 11-4) 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.
In Mincey's eight years, the squad is 12-6 against nationally-ranked competition with a 2-1 tally on the year. Only four of the eight games have been true road affairs with C-N holding a 3-1 record. The lone setback in that span came at sixth-ranked Lincoln Memorial on Jan. 25, 2017.
One of the wins is against Anderson (21-2, 15-0) when the Trojans were No. 11 on Jan. 11, 2016. The Lady Eagles left the Palmetto State with a 54-51 win. Jai Jai McLaughlin had an offensive rebound stick back with 1:50 to go and Kayla Newman hit a clutch triple with 13 seconds to go to secure the win.
The Trojans held off a late Carson-Newman rally to win 84-81 at Holt Fieldhouse on Jan. 9 to cut their deficit in the all-time series to 13-9. In the 23rd all-time meeting, Anderson will look to improve to 6-4 inside of its own gym.
The Lady Eagles saw their typically accurate shooting stroke misfire going 4-for-23 from long range and missing eight foul shots. Anderson scored the first 11 points of the game but the Lady Eagles were able to close the gap to three by the end of the first quarter.
The bulge reached a game-high 13 points with 2:47 to go before the Lady Eagles went on a 14-2 run to cut the gap to 82-81 with 18.4 second remaining. Erin Cepeda made a pair of foul shots and Addison Byrd (Nashville, Tenn.) missed a game-tying three-point attempt at the other end as time expired.
Anderson dominated the glass with a 46-31 rebounding differential reeling in 16 offensive rebounds leading to 15 second-chance points.
"We got killed on the glass for one," Mincey said. "If you fall behind 11-0 to a team as good as Anderson it's probably not a formula for success. Second-chance points – I don't know what the number was but I know they had 16 offensive rebounds to our eight. There were some situations in the fourth quarter where we didn't have good discipline and box outs giving them easy stuff. If we have a chance of winning at Anderson we are going to have to do a better job on the glass."
Coach Jonathon Barbaree's team sports the fourth-longest winning streak in Division II. Drury, Southwestern Oklahoma and UC San Diego have combined to lose one game this season. The last loss for the Trojans came on Nov. 17 when Claflin earned a 77-71 victory. The Trojans have won 16 straight home games since Lenoir-Rhyne won 56-51 on Jan. 20, 2018.
Anderson is one of the strongest defensive teams in the country ranking seventh in rebounding (45.4), ninth in rebounding margin (plus-10.1), 12th in field-goal percentage (34.7), 14th in three-point defense (26.8) and 16th in blocks (108). They do it without forcing turnovers as only five schools have fewer turnovers forced per game than their 12.4.
Offensively, the Trojans have the second-best scoring offense in the league behind C-N at 75.5 points per game ranking 32nd in the country. With a 37.5 percent clip from long range, the team is 18th in the country while making 43.9 percent overall, good for 31st.
Alexy Mollenahuer, 19.2, and Ace Easter, 16.7, are the only two players posting double figures on average this season. Three players are in the top seven in the league in minutes per game with Madison Baggett leading that duo at 34.3 minutes per game.
Mollenahuer leads the league with 11.3 rebounds per game tying Kayla Marosites (Elizabethton, Tenn.) with 15 double-doubles on the season, ranking fifth in America. She is the league leader in three-point percentage at 40 percent while being third in blocks at 29.
The Eagle Sports Network will pull up a chair courtside to paint a picture on a blank canvas starting at 5:45 p.m. with "The Appalachian Electric Cooperative Countdown to Tip-Off". Find a comfortable spot and lock in for the audio broadcast on cneagles.com/live and 106.3 (WPFT-FM, Sevierville).
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