C-N Lady Eagles rally to top Wingate 56-50
Carson-Newman’s Lacy Miller slices her way to the basket against Wingate Saturday night at Holt Fieldhouse in Jefferson City.
JEFFERSON CITY — The Carson-Newman women’s basketball team that managed just two points in the opening seven minutes of the game was nowhere to be seen in the second half against Wingate Saturday night. The Lady Eagles bounced back from one of their worst halves of basketball to beat Wingate 56-50 in the regular season finale at Holt Fieldhouse.
“They took what was a miserable game and turned it into an exciting afternoon for us,” C-N coach Mike Mincey said. “In the second I thought we still came out sluggish, but we made some things happen in the full court press. That gave us a boost in energy and we carried it on for the rest of the half.”
The Lady Eagles (15-10, 9-9 South Atlantic Conference) finish the season on a two-game winning streak, locking down the No. 5 seed in the SAC Tournament. Carson-Newman will play at No. 4 Newberry (19-9, 11-7) Wednesday night at 7 p.m. in the opening round.
Carson-Newman could not have opened the game worse than they did Saturday against the Lady Bulldogs (13-15, 7-11). C-N’s Courdne Miles hit a layup thirty seconds in. It would be exactly 5:29 until a Carson-Newman player would hit another shot. Finally, down by 10 the Lady Eagles began finding the basket consistently and getting into the game. By halftime Wingate led 26-17.
It took the Lady Eagles a few minutes to get going in the second, but once they did Wingate sagged fast. Tatum Burstrom and Jai Jai McLaughlin capitalized on opportunities at the foul line and senior post Nikki James began taking over in the paint. James and Burstrom both finished the game with 12 points apiece.
“We’re really utilizing our team chemistry on the court and transporting it from practice to the game,” James said. “Basketball is a game you can go on runs. That’s what we did in the second half. We made a stand in the locker room to not let them build a lead and get back in the game.”
A steal and score from Chante Markus five minutes into the half put Carson-Newman ahead for the first time. The Lady Bulldogs would tie the game one more time with a jumper from Janitsha Williams, but C-N was finally in control for good. Williams scored 13 for Wingate.
“When we got the steals and eventually took the lead and we were on a really big high at that point,” Mincey said. “I think they had deflated a little bit. It’s a game of runs and emotions. I don’t think they ever got their momentum back.”
Wingate had played too clean a game for their own good. With time winding down, C-N barely got into the bonus before the game, leaving the Lady Bulldogs little chance to cut into the lead.
In the final minutes of the game Mincey pulled out his third guard, instead going big with Shyra Clark, Miles and James all playing together to clog the lane and pull down rebounds. Wingate managed just three points over the last 2:45 of the game.
“I don’t like to have them all out there,” Mincey said. “Shyra doesn’t feel comfortable playing the three, but we’d gone as far as we could with that small line up. We were getting hammered on the offensive boards. Luckily they weren’t putting them back in. We needed the bigs in to help us on the defensive end. “
Clark finished the game with 14 points for Carson-Newman. Chantal Dunbar scored 16 for the Lady Bulldogs, with Morgan McGee adding 11 from the bench.
Wingate, as the No. 7 seed, will play at No. 2 seed Lenoir-Rhyne (18-8, 13-5) in the SAC opener Wednesday.
-By Adam Greene, Tribune Correspondent