JEFFERSON CITY, Tenn. – Two free throws from Haris Price and one from Sydney Pearce in the final 15 seconds broke a 70-70 tie to seal a Carson-Newman 73-71 victory over Tusculum Wednesday evening at Holt Fieldhouse sealing a third-straight 20-win season.
"We have had some of these kids for quite a while now and they have been in some big games," Carson-Newman coach Mike MIncey said. "When you get that experience to play in some big games, as a coach it's nice because you are going to have players on the floor that can seal the deal for you. It was nip-and-tuck and could have gone either way.
"We were very fortunate that Haris put the team on her back late. Her getting to go to the free-throw line and getting the two-point cushion was big. Getting a stop at the other end was nice. I was going to get Pearce out of the game and obviously didn't want it to go to her but as a freshman that's not one of our better free-throw shooters to hit that big one to put us up three was obviously a key to the game."
The Lady Eagles are now 72-19 over the last three seasons winning 20 games for a third-straight campaign marking the first time in 29 years that the program wins at least 20 in three successive seasons.
Carson-Newman (20-6, 13-5) has now won six consecutive contests against Tusculum (18-7, 10-7) and 11 of the last improving to 33-5 all-time at home against the Pioneers. The loss for the Tusculum snaps a five-game winning streak as C-N wins at home for a third-straight game.
After a seesaw opening, Tusculum used a 9-0 spurt to break open an 11-point lead at 19-8 six minutes into the contest. C-N started the game 3-for-13 from the field and despite making its final four shots from the field trailed 26-18 after 10 minutes of action.
Mincey's squad scored eight of the first 10 points of the second stanza to pull within two at 28-26 but failed to score over the next 2:25 before Abby Wilson (Kingston, Tenn.) buried a right-wing triple. A Lovely Locklear triple from the left corner expanded the margin back to eight at 39-31 with 2:17 to go in the half. It would be the last bucket the visitors scored as C-N scored the final six to close within two at 39-37 at halftime.
C-N captured its first lead of the contest on a triple from the top of the key by Haris Price (Gatlinburg, Tenn.) with 6:51 to go in the third making it a 44-43 game. Tusculum failed to score for a five-minute stretch allowing the home team to rattle off a 9-2 sequence to go on top 50-45. The teams entered the fourth quarter with the home side leading 54-50.
Tusculum scored five unanswered points to tie the game at 59 with with 5:32 to go in the game. The Lady Eagles responded by scoring the next five and lead by four at 70-66 with 1:42 to go. Layups from Kendrea Duke and Yolizma Cupidan tied the tally at 70 with 43 seconds left.
Price dribbled to the right wing splitting a double team and before drawing a foul with 14 seconds to play. The senior made a pair of foul shots on one end and then drew an offensive foul on Jalia Arnwine as the Pioneers were inbounding the ball in the frontcourt by the hash mark.
Nearing a five-second count, the ball went into Pearce who made one of two at the line. Callie Patterson caught the ball on the right wing for Tusculum and missed a triple in a fight for the loose ball a foul was called on the Lady Eagles with 0.5 seconds on the clock. Cupidan made the first shot before missing the second on purpose. A fight for the ball saw the clock expire.
Price finished the game with 20 points, five rebounds and four steals moving into sole possession of seventh place on the school's scoring list passing former teammate Mika Wester and bringing her total to 1,332. Her four assists broke a tie with Kailyn Brooks for ninth on the ledger to expand the number to 324.
Tori Griffin (Strawberry Plains, Tenn.) went 7-for-9 from the field and 4-for-5 from the three-point line to match her career high with 20 points. Seven of those points came in the fourth quarter.
"I'm glad I contributed as much as I could," Griffin said. "I wanted to play as hard as I could for my team especially with this being a rivalry game. I think I am starting to get more confidence. Most of my team tries to build my confidence so that helps a lot."
Kayla Marosites (Elizabethton, Tenn.) finished with her 18th double-double of the season with 11 points and 10 boards. Briana Smith (Nashville, Tenn.) scored 10 points to bring her career tally to 1,208 to break a tie with Brooks for 13th.
Mia Long, Tusculum's leading scorer, injured her head at the end of the first half and did not play in the second half. Duke and Cupidan picked up the slack scoring 13 of 21 and 11 of 16 in the second half respectively.
Lovely Locklear was the only other player in double figures with 11 points.
The Lady Eagles host their final regular-season home game of the season with its senior day celebrations on Saturday at 2 p.m. against Queens from inside of the friendly confines.
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