JEFFERSON CITY, Tenn. – The Carson-Newman Lady Eagles (15-13, 12-10 South Atlantic Conference) women's basketball team defeated the Newberry Wolves (15-11, 11-11 South Atlantic Conference) by a score of 50-49 at Eleazer Arena on Saturday afternoon.
Junior Whitney Kyle (Jefferson City, Tenn.) willed Carson-Newman to the victory by scoring the final eight points in the contest after C-N trailed 48-42 with 56 seconds to play. After cutting Newberry's lead to 49-48, she stole the ensuing inbounds pass and scored with a right-side layup to give Carson-Newman a 50-49 lead over Newberry with 14 seconds to play, which would be the final score.
"I'm so proud of our kids," said Carson-Newman head women's basketball coach Mike Mincey. "We've lost eight of our last 10 games and a lot of those were games we could've won. But being down eight with less than a minute to go, I can't be more proud of how we didn't give up and kept fighting. Certainly our press was a thing that helped us get the win along with Whitney Kyle."
"I just knew in my head that I didn't want to lose and didn't want my team to lose," Kyle said. "So I just decided to do whatever it took for us to win. I actually was a little lost on defense (after the made shot to make it 49-48), then I saw they were about to throw it to my girl so I turned around and got it and then went in for the layup."
The game began heavily in Newberry's favor, with the Wolves scoring the contest's first 11 points, and Newberry led 17-5 for its largest lead of the game with 11:49 left in the first half.
Carson-Newman would bounce back despite starting the contest 0-for-8 from the field, thanks to a trio of three pointers, two from sophomore Tatum Burstrom (Maryville, Tenn.), and senior Chante' Markus (Hummelstown, Pa.).
After Newberry was up 13-2 to begin the game, the Lady Eagles closed the final 10 minutes on a 15-10 run to only trail 23-17 at the half. Carson-Newman scored the first six points in the second half to quickly tie the contest at 23. The Lady Eagles would also be tied with Newberry at 25 and 30, but Carson-Newman could never gain the lead as Newberry continued getting strong post play.
Newberry's strongest stretch came near the end of the contest. The Wolves grew the lead to 48-40 with 1:07 remaining after a made 3-pointer by Tasia Holdorf. Carson-Newman's Kaitlyn Cupples (Clinton, Tenn.) got a quick layup to cut the score to 48-42 with 56 seconds to go.
From there, Kyle took over. She hit her first jumper in the final minute with 40 seconds to go before cutting Newberry's lead to 48-46 with 31 seconds to play on another jumper. Holdorf was fouled two seconds later, and went 1-for-2 from the line to put Newberry's lead at 48-46. Kyle scored on a driving layup to cut the lead to 49-48 with 16 seconds left. She then stole the inbounds pass and scored on a layup to put C-N ahead for the first time in the game 50-49 with 14 seconds to play.
Newberry's Zara Pearson then turned the ball over before committing an offensive foul, and the Lady Eagles rode out the final seconds to victory.
Newberry was led in scoring by the SAC's leading scorer Haylee Lepaio. She recorded a double-double with 24 points and a season-high 22 rebounds. She was joined in double-figures by Holdorf's 15 points, and Kyle was the only C-N scorer with 10 or more points.
Carson-Newman will now await its SAC Tournament fate, with the brackets being announced later this weekend by the league office. The Lady Eagles do know that they are in the tournament, and will play an on-campus first round game on Wednesday at 6 p.m.
Wednesday's first round tournament game will be carried on the Eagle Sports Network's flagship station WPFT-FM 106.3 FM, with coverage beginning at 5:45 p.m. with "The Countdown to Tipoff," and live audio is also available on www.cneagles.com.