NEWBERRY, S.C. – With a home game assured in the South Atlantic Conference Quarterfinals, Carson-Newman hits the road to finalize the regular season game of the year against Newberry Saturday at 2 p.m. from Eleazer Arena.
"They are a good-sized team," Carson-Newman coach Mike Mincey said. "They are very fundamentally sound and shot the ball from all around and from the perimeter. When they are playing well, they are very tough to beat. They have had some setbacks this year but right now it would appear that they are playing really good basketball."
While there are plenty of scenarios in the middle to bottom of the SAC standings, Carson-Newman (21-6, 14-5) can be either the two or the three seed. Wingate holds the tiebreak based off of a season sweep with the Lady Eagles needing a win and Bulldogs loss at Tusculum to take over the second seed.
Regardless of seeding, a win would secure back-to-back top-two finishes for the third time in program history. C-N was either first or second in each of the first four years of the league and most recently ended the year second in two-straight campaigns in 2004-05 and 2005-06.
Road games have been a strong suit for Mincey's crew as the team is looking to win 11 away efforts for the second-straight year. In fact, over the last two seasons, the team is 21-5 away from Jefferson City after posting a 38-39 mark in the first six years of his tenure.
"Going on the road and winning is difficult," Mincey said. "You have to steal some games on the road. You have to beat a few people that maybe you shouldn't and you have to win all of your home games. The talent level picked up these last few years. A lot of it honestly is that our player personnel has picked up a little bit."
It has been a dominating recent stretch for the Lady Eagles against Newberry (16-10, 10-9) winning each of the last six contests and 10 of the last 12 stretching their lead in the series to 29-17. The six-game mark is the second-longest winning streak for either side in the series as C-N won nine in-a-row from 2000-04.
For the most part it has been a dominating sequence with C-N winning five of the six by double figures with the lone exception coming on Dec. 2, 2017 at Newberry when the Lady Eagles settled for a six-point win at 71-55. The Wolves are being limited to 59 points per game during their skid posting fewer than 60 points three times.
When the sides tangled on Jan 19 at Holt Fieldhouse, Carson-Newman scored 29 points off of turnovers and scored the first 13 points of the fourth quarter to upend 25th-ranked Newberry 71-55 as the Lady Eagles led for 38:12.
Haris Price (Gatlinburg, Tenn.) led the way for the Lady Eagles with 18 points and three steals and Kayla Marosites (Elizabethton, Tenn.) racked up her 12th double-double of the year with 11 points and 11 boards. Briana Smith (Nashville, Tenn.) stuffed the stat sheet with 11 points, five rebounds, three assists and three steals while Addison Byrd (Nashville, Tenn.) finished with 10 points and six boards.
Meg Essex led the charge for the visitors finished with 19 points of six of 10 shooting adding 10 rebounds and seven rejections over 29 minutes. She was the only player in double digits as Shelby Britten added nine points and seven assists.
After a midseason swoon that saw Newberry lose eight of 10, the Wolves have won three of the last four, but the seeding is murky entering the weekend. The Wolves can finish anywhere from fourth to seventh as the team currently sits in sixth.
Turnovers continue to poise a big issue for coach Joanna Tincher's side touting the sixth-worst turnover margin of any team in Division II at minus-seven. The Wolves commit the 13th-most giveaways in the country at 21. It has shown improvement lately averaging just 13 over the last three games holding a 6-5 record when turning it over less than 20 times.
When the unit possesses the basketball, Newberry is among the better offenses in the league shooting 43 percent, third in the SAC, from the floor and 35 percent from long range, good for fourth.
Three players are scoring 63 percent of the team's points with Essex posting 16.8, Britten sitting at 15.4 and Regan McCarty scoring 11.8. The next highest scorer is Kelsey McDermott at 7.3 points per game on the season.
Essex is producing another all-conference caliber campaign as she has scored in double figures in 24 of the 26 games this season ranking third in the league in rebounding, fourth in scoring and second in blocked shots with 63.
Saturday's affair can be enjoyed on two platforms. Radio coverage can be found on 106.3 (WPFT-FM, Sevierville) with an audio stream available on cneagles.com/live starting at 1:45 p.m. with "The Appalachian Electric Cooperative Countdown to Tip-Off".
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