True Freshman Sanders Scores 17 as Eagles Drop Exhibition at ETSU, 96-61
JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. – Back-to-back D-I NCAA Tournament participant East Tennessee State used a balanced effort to top short-handed Carson-Newman in exhibition action, 96-61, on Tuesday night at the ETSU/MSHA Athletic Center on the ETSU campus.
True freshman Ishmael Sanders (Cleveland, Tenn.) had a team-high 17 points to lead the Eagles, while newcomer Antonio Sullivan (Louisville, Ky.) and senior Erwin Staten (Huntsville, Ala.) added 12 apiece.
The unofficial first game in the Chuck Benson era saw C-N playing without two upperclassmen and likely starters, point guard Bradley Tumer (Mt. Dora, Fla.) and Brandon Evans (Salem, Va.), who are resting injuries. Freshman Levon Tate (Murfreesboro, Tenn.) also sat with a foot injury.
Senior Mike Smith (Vandalia, Mo.) made a triumphant return to the court for the Bucs. Smith, who missed much of last season with an injury and was granted a medical redshirt, returned to action and scored a game-high 25 points in the contest.
While Smith led the way offensively, the Bucs also got 17 points from senior guard Micah Williams (Manchester), 12 points from senior guard Justin Tubbs (Trussville, Ala.), and 10 points apiece from junior forward Isiah Brown (Miami, Fla.) and sophomore guard Sheldon Cooley (Tampa, Fla.).
Meanwhile, Brown also posted a game-high eight rebounds and six blocks, with junior guard Adam Sollazzo (Tampa, Fla.) dished out a game-high 10 assists.
In the first half, the Bucs pulled out to an early lead thanks to a 13-0 run to open the game. That advantage grew to as many as 21 points at 36-15 with six minutes left in the half, but the Eagles managed to claw their way back into by outscoring the Bucs 16-11 the rest of the way to trail 47-33 at the break.
Part of C-N's ability to stay in the game came thanks to their 9-of-24 (37.5 percent) shooting from beyond the arc. However, the Bucs posted a 52.6 percent clip (20-of-38) from the field and out-rebounded the Eagles 26-20.
For the game, C-N shot 12-for-34 from three-point range, including Sanders knocking down 5-of-10.
Carson-Newman continues its exhibition season on Thursday at Tennessee Tech University in Cookeville, Tenn.