JEFFERSON CITY, Tenn. — In a loud and rowdy Holt Fieldhouse where Carson-Newman had not lost this season, the No. 16 University of North Georgia women's basketball team almost pulled off the upset, falling 75-71 to the top-seeded Eagles in the Southeast Regional Championship Monday night.
The season ends with UNG's record at 29-5.
Carson-Newman jumped out to a 9-2 lead early on, but UNG went on a 6-0 run to cut the lead to one. Again, Carson-Newman stretched their lead out to eight near the end of the first quarter, but the Nighthawks jumped back into the game quickly, tying the game at 19-19.
The Eagles went on another run to extend their lead to nine with 2:55 left in the second period behind Mika Wester's and-one, but a Julianne Sutton layup and an Abbie Franklin three-pointer brought North Georgia back to four. Two Wester layups in the closing minutes of the half, however, gave the Eagles a four-point lead as the teams hit halftime.
Trailing by 10 after another Wester layup, the Nighthawks went on a 7-0 run powered by five straight points from Amber Skidgel, cutting the lead down to 39-36. UNG kept the game close throughout the period and trailed by just three points with 10 minutes to play.
The Eagles started the fourth quarter on fire shooting, stretching the lead out to 12 with just over four minutes left, but the Nighthawks never quit, clawing back to within two twice in the final minute. Clutch free throws from SAC Co-Player of the Year Haris Price sealed the win for C-N and the regional championship.
- Franklin had a career-high 24 points on eight three-pointers, including one with 17 seconds left that cut the lead to two. Skidgel and Deana Blankinship finished with 11 points in the season finale.
- Julianne Sutton contributed 12 points and was named to the All-Region Tournament Team. The freshman averaged 11 points and 6.6 rebounds per game in the tournament.
- Wester led all scorers with 26 points. Kayla Marosites pulled down 21 rebounds for the Eagles, including 10 offensive boards.
- The Nighthawks outshot the Eagles, who averaged 93 points per game this season, in field goals and three-pointers. C-N shot 16-of-23 from the free throw line, while UNG only shot 4-of-6 from the stripe.
- With the loss, the season ends with UNG's furthest run into the postseason in NCAA-era history. Head coach Buffie Burson graduates four seniors, including Mackenzie Darrah, Danyelle Blankinship, Deana Blankinship and Julie McKie. "These seniors have meant more to this program than I can even begin to say," said Burson. "I don't do them justice, nor do I give the team justice, because they exemplify the heart and soul of this program."