TIGERVILLE, S.C. – After falling behind 8-0 in the first three minutes of play, the Carson-Newman Lady Eagles finished the first 20 minutes of play on a 49-13 run and never looked back en route to their best offensive output of the season with an 88-59 win over the North Greenville Crusaders Wednesday night at Hayes Gymnasium.
The Lady Eagles tied a season-high by forcing 27 Crusader turnovers after instituting the patented three-quarter court press midway through the first quarter.
Four Carson-Newman players finished in double figures led by senior guard Tatum Burstrom (Maryville, Tenn.) who finished with 17 points and moved within a three-pointer away from the school record for treys in a career; C-N finished with four double figure scorers for the second time this season.
"On the road, you don't want to let a team get a big lead with you. They made a couple shots there to go up 8-0 and it was the perfect time for me to call a timeout," coach Mike Mincey said of the Crusaders' early spurt. "It actually worked in our favor. At that point, the media is gone and we have to resort to our press, which we hadn't done a ton this year. We went to the platoon system; we played 10 or 11 players and kind of wore them down a bit. It kind of ignited our team."
Carson-Newman missed its first seven shots to fall behind 8-0 with 7:15 remaining in the opening stanza. The Lady Eagles responded with a 14-3 run capped by a three-pointer by Burstrom with 3:32 to play in the first quarter. North Greenville committed eight turnovers in the opening 10 minutes to see Carson-Newman lead 19-13.
North Greenville failed to make a shot from the field for 9:57 of game action from the first quarter to the second quarter as Carson-Newman's lead ballooned to 35-14 with 3:09 left in the opening half, a run of 35-6 in total. The Lady Eagles shot just 41 percent but outrebounded the Crusaders 28-12 including 16 offensive rebounds. The first-career made three-pointer for junior forward Kaitlyn Cupples (Clinton, Tenn.) put the Lady Eagles ahead 49-21 heading into the halftime break.
"I felt like we left a lot of points out there in the first half even though we scored 49. We made a few shots. I think how we hustled and performed defensively, didn't give up any offensive rebounds and second chance points in the first half," Mincey said of the 28-point halftime lead. "We put the ball in the basket enough to where we kept that pressure going and our defensive pressure going."
In the third quarter, the Crusaders were able to cut the C-N lead to 24 after a Cameron Carter made lay-up with 2:18 left. The Lady Eagles responded with a 12-3 run capped by a Kailyn Brooks (Lafayette, Tenn.) lay-up to end the quarter; Carson-Newman led 72-46 through 30 minutes of play.
The Lady Eagles shot 7-of-12 in the final quarter of play and held North Greenville to just 4-of-15 from the field to extend its lead. Freshman guard Brianna Smith (Nashville, Tenn.) made a lay-up with 39 seconds left in the game to cap the Lady Eagles' scoring as Carson-Newman went on for the 88-59 win.
Carson-Newman finished the game 35-of-74 from the field for a 47 percent mark and 48 percent from behind the arc with 11 three-pointers. The Lady Eagles outrebounded the Crusaders 46 to 31, which was the largest margin of the season. North Greenville finished the game shooting 42 percent from the field after shooting 22-of-53.
"Overall, we played really, really well and the shots were just falling," Cupples said. "Our aggressive mentality (in the press) that we weren't going to let them have the ball and we were going to trap them every time we could."
Burstrom finished with 17 points, three rebounds and two steals; Brooks added 14 points, three assists and two steals. Cupples finished a rebound shy of her second double-double with 13 points and nine boards; she led the Eagles in rebounding for the second time this season and the 19th time in her career.
Sophomore Katie Stubblefield (Alcoa, Tenn.) filled her score line with 11 points, five rebounds, three assists and two steals.
North Greenville was led by the nation's 11th-leading scorer Cameron Carter who finished with 19 points and four boards. The sophomore turned the ball over five times. Ty Broadwater was the only other Crusader to finish in double figures with 12 points.
The Lady Eagles bounce back into South Atlantic Conference play on Saturday with a trip to Charlotte, N.C. to face Queens at 2 p.m. with broadcast coverage beginning at 1:45 p.m. on the Eagle Sports Network.