VIDEO: Chuck Benson Interview
VIDEO: Charles Clark Interview
VIDEO: Sawyer Williams Interview
HARTSVILLE, S.C. – Carson-Newman (10-6, 7-3 South Atlantic Conference) went five minutes without scoring late in the second half, but Sawyer Williams (Owenton, Ky.) connected on and-one with less than 30 seconds to play to propel C-N past Coker (6-10, 3-7 SAC) Saturday afternoon at the DeLoach Center.
Williams and Charles Clark (Murfreesboro, Tenn.) combined for 50 points to power the Eagles. Clark had a season-high 26 points, while Williams added 24. They were a combined 18-for-26 form the floor, each went 9-for-13.
Carson-Newman went on a 7-0 to snag a 77-71 lead with 6:31 to play on Clark three. The Eagles wouldn't score for the next five minutes. Coker closed it down to a one-point game with 1:55 left after Miguel Priest pilfered Clark and raced to the rim for a fast break bucket.
After a C-N miss, Zack Pangallo (Newport, Ky.) stole a pass from JaQuez Motley and was promptly fouled. He knocked down both free throws to make it a three-point game.
Following a Nathan Lemke layup for Coker, Carson-Newman had an opportunity to push the lead back to three with 30 seconds left, however, Williams missed a layup. The rebound caromed out of bounds off a Coker player. The shot clock was off, and the Eagles had the ball with 22 seconds left.
Coker had to foul immediately. It did, but Malik Abraham (Snellville, Ga.) found Williams down on the right block, who layed it in behind the defense and gt hacked by Motley.
Williams connected on the free throw to make it a four-point game and seal the deal for C-N.
"We just wanted to get the ball inbounds," head coach Chuck Benson said. "We told the guys in a previous timeout to get it to be wise and go to the guys who have been in these situations and proven time and time again that they can deliver. It wasn't so much a play, but an awareness of Malik to get the ball to him. Then Sawyer did what he did."
The win gives Carson-Newman four straight wins over Coker, the longest win streak in series history. C-N has also won 10 consecutive games in the state of South Carolina.
"We'd run that same play earlier in the game, and I'd noticed that position was open," Williams said. "I never bit on it. At the end, I made eye contact with Malik. He made a good passs and it was a quick score."
Carson-Newman exploded out of the gates in the first half, knocking down 9-of-15 threes en route to building a three-point halftime lead. C-N wound up making 10-of-21 threes for the game, the second most its hit this season.
"We wanted to establish our inside game with a guy like Sawyer," Benson said. "We got good looks, and guys stepped up and made them. I'm all for quality shots, so we're fine with them taking those."
Cameron Holmes (Fort Mill, S.C.) drilled three of those threes in five attempts. He was the Eagles' third leading scorer with 11. Benson credited him, as well as fellow freshmen Dawan Perry (Detroit, Mich.) and Reece Anderson (Atlanta, Ga.) as stepping up.
"I thought three freshmen really played well today," Benson said. "Anderson, Perry and Holmes all played big minutes down the stretch in spite the fact that Shaun Jones never really got into a rhythm with foul trouble."
At the same time, the Eagles dialed up the defense, especially in the second half. Carson-Newman limited the Cobras to 34.4 percent shooting in the second half, and 2-for-11 from deep. Coker only knocked down three of its final 12 shots in the game.
For a second straight game, C-N forced its opponent into 21 turnovers. The Eagles converted those into 22 points.
Motley led Coker with 22 points. The SAC's leader in threes attempted drained six-of-13. Roman Hall had 15, while Jake Barrett and Lemke chipped in 13 and 12, respectively.
The Eagles finish up the first half of the SAC schedule against Anderson at home. The Eagles and Trojans tipoff at 8 p.m. Pregame coverage on the Eagle Sports Network starts at 7:45 with the AEC Countdown to Tipoff on Mountain Country 106.3 (WPFT-FM, Sevierville) and online at cneagles.com/live.