JEFFERSON CITY—Facing its largest deficit of the season at 16 points in the third quarter, Carson-Newman closed regulation on a 16-4 run and led by as many as six in overtime only to see McKenzie Gadson drain a buzzer-beating three-pointer from the top of the key to give 20th-ranked Anderson sole possession of first place with a 102-100 overtime win.
The Trojans had lost both prior overtime meetings between the two programs securing its fourth straight win, their longest streak in the series. After winning his first six bouts at home against top 25 teams, coach Mike Mincey is 1-2 in the last two years with both losses coming to Anderson (17-3, 12-2).
"First of all, [Anderson coach Jonathon Barbaree] does a great job," Mincey said. "Anderson is a great team and they have really good players. Two really good basketball teams going toe-to-toe with each other. Their first half from offensive standpoint might have been the greatest I've seen Anderson play in terms of their execution. They shot 61 percent from the field and made eight threes.
"There were a few teams where a lesser team would have folded the way Anderson was playing. It would have been a 20- or 30-point blow out. I am proud of how we got some stops on the defensive end. To be able to come back against a team the caliber of Anderson to tie it and get it into overtime is a testament to our players and the way we are playing right now."
Down by a dozen with eight minutes to play in regulation, Carson-Newman (14-6, 10-4) locked down defensively and scored 16 of the final 20 points tying the game on two foul shots from Kelci Marosites (Elizabethton, Tenn.) with 19 seconds to play. Alexy Mollenhauer missed a potential game-winning three at the end of regulation.
A three-pointer from Kelci Marosites gave the Lady Eagles their largest lead of the game, six, with 1:40 to play in the first overtime session. Gadson drilled a three-pointer from the left corner, got fouled and made the free throw. Mollenhauer made a three and two free throws on the next two trips to cap a 9-0 burst with 24 seconds to play.
Kelci Marosites came up clutch again making a driving layup in the middle of the lane, drawing a foul and converting the foul shot to tie the game at 93 with 19 seconds to go. Anderson settled for a last second gasp from Taylor Hair that missed everything.
"We had to perform some plays late and I was really proud of how they were able to make those things work," Mincey said. "In the first overtime period we are disappointed in the six-point lead that we had with a little more than a minute to go. We foul a three-point shooter. It's a four-point play. Then they get another three. I thought we had the game in control at that point. Anderson made plays that mattered."
Kayla Marosites (Elizabethton, Tenn.) gave the home group its first lead of the second session with 58 seconds to go moving the score to 98-97. Mollenhauer made a pair of foul shots with nine seconds to give the Trojans the lead back.
With no timeouts left, Braelyn Wykle (Greeneville, Tenn.) sprinted the length of the floor banking in a right-handed layup from the right block to give C-N a 100-99 lead with 3.4 seconds to go.
The inbound pass was deflected before Gadson, a 30-percent shooter from deep, picked up the ball near midcourt. She dribbled a couple times before heaving a three-pointer at the hoop that drained all chords to start the celebration for Anderson.
The first 10 minutes of the game was a shooting exhibition by both teams with the largest margin for either side coming at the end of the period with the Trojans on top 30-26. C-N made 69 percent of its shots and Anderson converted on 63 percent.
A quick burst by the visitors stretched the differential to seven four minutes into the second period. Mincey's crew answered by scoring seven unanswered to tie the score at 40 with 4:13 to play before halftime.
Anderson surged scoring the next 13 points, the largest run allowed by C-N this season, and 15 of the final 13 points of the first half to go into the locker room ahead 55-43. The 13-point deficit was the largest of the season for the Lady Eagles and just the third time this year that the team trailed by double figures, the first since Nov. 23 at North Georgia.
The 55 points yielded were the most given up in a half this year besting the 50 by King on Nov. 13. It was the second time this year that the team trailed at the break, the other being an 82-72 win at King on Nov. 16.
Trading buckets to start the third period, the Trojans pushed the margin to 16 thanks to four straight points from Alexy Mollenhauer. C-N rattled off 10 consecutive points to close within four at 65-61 with 2:10 to play in the third. The visitors were able to push the margin to seven at 70-63 entering the final frame.
Overall the Lady Eagles shot 46 percent from the field and buried 14 shots from beyond the arc. Wykle paved the way with a career-high 30 points going 11-for-21 from the field and five of eight from long range. Her scoring effort came 364 days after the last 30-point scoring effort by a Lady Eagle when Haris Price put up 44 at Lenoir-Rhyne.
Kayla Marosites finished with 14 points, 14 rebounds, four assists and three steals. Addison Byrd (Nashville, Tenn.) ended with 14 points and four boards and Kelci Marosites had 12 points and six rebounds.
Anderson shot 38 percent after halftime after posting a 62 percent effort in the first 20 minutes. Mollenahuer led all players with 31 points chipping in 14 rebounds, six assists and five blocks.
Madison Baggett stuffed the stat sheet with 18 points, nine assists, seven rebounds and four steals. Gadson and Alexis Tate each tallied 14 points and Hair had 11.
The Lady Eagles head on the road to play five of their next seven starting Wednesday night to the mountains to face off against Mars Hill at 5:30 p.m.