GAFFNEY, S.C. – Limestone scored the first 10 points of the fourth quarter as 11th-ranked Carson-Newman failed to score in the first four minutes of the final period watching a lead evaporate for good in a 72-67 South Atlantic Conference setback Saturday at the Timken Center.

The Lady Eagles relied heavily on the bench seeing their reserves post a season-high 26 points seeing three players tally at least 22 minutes. All five starters posted a negative ratio on the plus-minus chart, indicating how a team fares when a player is on the floor.

“In my 10 years of coaching, I don’t think I have ever seen a situation where all of our starters are in the negative big time,” Carson-Newman coach Mike Mincey said. “Our starters, we have relied on them so much and they have played great throughout the year. I told them we are all in this together. We are all coached the same way, have the same system and the same plays. The second six were all in the positive basically. I don’t know what to attribute that to. We missed some bunnies early. We never got in a flow playing against the man and the zone whereas the bench guys came in and did much better.”

Carson-Newman (14-2, 14-2) saw its five-game road winning streak and seven-game overall winning string come to an end on Saturday falling to second in the league standings due to Tusculum having one more game played.

Braelyn Wykle (Greeneville, Tenn.) led the team in scoring with 15 points going 5-for-14 from the field adding four rebounds and three assists. The sophomore’s string of eight 20-point scoring outings was snapped.

In her first game back in a week, Lindsey Taylor (Maryville, Tenn.) added 14 points going 6-for-10 from the field hauling in six rebounds.

Abby Wilson (Kingston, Tenn.) and Qua Hines (Sevierville, Tenn.) highlighted the bench’s effort with nine points and seven points respectively teaming up for five assists.

Limestone (6-7, 6-6) entered the game ranked 15th-worst in the country in rebounding margin at minus-10 but outrebounded Carson-Newman 47-42, only the fourth time this year the club had fewer boards than its foe.

The Lady Eagles started the game well scoring the first six points and using an 11-2 burst in the first five minutes to take charge. Limestone pulled within a possession but a Hines layup with 30 seconds to go in the first put the visitors ahead 21-16 after a quarter.

It was a part of a seven-point scoring run that allowed C-N to take its largest lead of the day on a layup by Sydney Pearce (Johnson City, Tenn.) at 10 points, 26-16, with 8:34 to go before halftime.

Lynadia Whitting hit a foul shot to make it a three-point game at 28-25 with 3:34 remaining in the second but Mincey’s club surged making three foul shots in the final half minute to go ahead 36-28 at halftime.

Limestone wasted no time surging out of the locker room making its first four shots and taking its first lead of the day with 6:04 to go in the third on a layup by Reagan McCray making it a 42-40 lead.

The Lady Eagles withstood the flurry as Wykle drilled a three-pointer with 1:07 to go in the third to make it a 53-49 game. It would be the last bucket for the Lady Eagles in a five-minute stretch.

The Saints took advantage scoring 10 unanswered points capped by back-to-back triples by Quin Byrd to give the home crew a 59-53 lead with 6:14 to go in the game.

Carson-Newman did not pull within a possession again until there was 39 seconds showing on the clock on two foul shots from Taylor Goforth (Friendsville, Tenn.).

However, Limestone went 11-for-13 at the free-throw line in the final period making five of six in the final 35 seconds to maintain the edge and close out the game.

Byrd led all scorers with 21 points adding five rebounds and four steals. McCray added 18 points filling out the stat sheet with six assists, five steals and four rebounds.

Reagan Kargo tossed in 11 points tacking on nine rebounds and Vonshayla Webb ripped down a game-high 14 caroms scoring six points.

The Lady Eagles put a bow on the regular season with a home affair against Lincoln Memorial on Wednesday at Holt Fieldhouse for a 5:30 p.m. opening tap. Coverage airs on The Mountain 106.3 (WPFT-FM, Sevierville) and online at starting at 5:15 with “The AEC Countdown to Tip-Off.” (WLAF NEWS PUBLISHED – 02/20/2021-8PM)