NEWBERRY, S.C. – Despite a slow first half that saw No. 15 Carson-Newman struggle, the Lady Eagles overcame the defensive Newberry squad in a 71-65 win over the Wolves at Eleazer Arena on Saturday.
C-N's victory marked the first loss at home for the Wolves in 2017.
The Lady Eagles (9-0, 2-0) shot under 40-percent from the field for the first time this season, only making 23 of their 62 attempts and amassing just 11.1-percent from three-point range. They made their presence known at the charity stripe, missing just four of their 27 attempts for a commanding 85.2-percent.
The Lady Eagles worked the boards with 39 rebounds to 31 from Newberry.
"To play as poorly as we did, especially shooting the ball, and come away with a victory, it's the best way to learn without picking up a loss," head coach Mike Mincey said. "It was ugly, for sure a game we very easily could have lost, but our scenario right now, we feel very fortunate to walk out of here with a win."
Mincey's group controlled a majority of the first half, leading by as many as six points. A 6-0 run for Newberry (5-4, 1-2) tied the game at the 1:20 mark of the opening frame as Ashton Wykle fouled Shelby Britten, sending the Wolves guard to the line. Her made free throw gave the Wolves their first lead of the game at 15-14.
Newberry's first quarter lead marked just the second time this season that C-N did not have the advantage heading into the second frame, the last time against North Georgia on Nov. 17.
"That first quarter is the best thing that could happen to our basketball team, especially with an undefeated season going and all of that stuff" Mincey said.
Price drove in for a layup just five seconds into the second half to help the Lady Eagles regain their lead at 16-15. C-N took on a 6-3 scoring run through nearly three minutes of play, Price scoring four of those points for C-N.
The Wolves dominated the second quarter, holding the Eagles to just 12 points in the frame, the fewest second quarter points from the Lady Eagles this season. The Lady Eagles' 26 points through the first half was the lowest amount they had put on the scoreboard this season, the previous lowest being 33 against King on Nov. 15.
Price and Mika Wester led the Lady Eagles with 8 through the first half as C-N was only about to shoot 35.3-percent from the floor and 0-9 from distance. The Wolves led shooting through the first two frames with an even 40-percent from the field. C-N led at the line however, making two of three attempts compared to just five of 10 from Newberry.
"(Newberry) plays a lot slower than we do so, I mean, we wanted to speed them up and they did a good job of keeping us slowed down," Price said. "I think that getting to the rim though, that's the way we win when we only hit two threes when we're averaging 11."
A jumper by Wester at the 6:53 mark of the third made her the first Lady Eagle to move into double-digit scoring on the day, cutting the Newberry lead to two at 34-32.
A layup from Price at the 3:08 mark ignited a 6-0 Lady Eagle run that gave C-N a 44-40 lead, four of those coming from trips to the line by Price. The Wolves would not stay quiet, scoring five points in a matter of two seconds after Britten was fouled on a three-pointer, making both of her free throw attempts to give Newberry a 45-44 lead. Carson-Newman answered with a 5-0 scoring run that was capped off by a Wykle shot from beyond the arc for a 50-45 C-N lead.
Late in the fourth quarter, the Lady Eagles held the Wolves scoreless for 2:58, garnering a 6-0 run for a 65-60. The Wolves overcame the defensive strength of C-N as Meg Essex scored on a jumper that Kayla Marosites was fouled on, sending Essex to the line for Newberry to make one, Lady Eagles leading 65-63.
Just a second later, a foul on Britten sent Price to the line, draining both of her opportunities to extend the C-N lead to four.
With just four ticks left on the clock, a foul on Britten sent Price to the line one more time on the afternoon. The junior made both, sealing the win for Mincey's team.
Britten led the way for the Wolves with 23 points, three boards and five assists. Essex and Samara Hill were also in double-digit territory with 17 and 12 points, respectively.
The Lady Eagles move on to yet another road game, this time with a trip to Anderson for a 6 p.m. tipoff against the Trojans on Wednesday. Radio coverage from Eleazer Arena will begin at 5:45 with "The Appalachian Electric Cooperative Countdown to Tip-Off" on Mountain Country 106.3 WPFT-FM and cneagles.com/live.
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