VIDEO: Chuck Benson Interview
VIDEO: Charles Clark Interview
VIDEO: Cam Holmes Interview
VIDEO: Grant Teichmann Interview
HARTSVILLE, S.C. – Carson-Newman (17-4, 9-4 South Atlantic Conference) wiped its hands of a weird Wednesday loss at Mars Hill by tallying its best offensive performance in a road game in more than a year with a 104-92 takedown of Coker (8-12, 5-7 SAC) Saturday afternoon at the DeLoach Center.
"I can't express in words how truly proud I am of them, and how happy I am for them," head coach Chuck Benson said. "We had an incredibly tough Thursday and Friday. We needed it to be Saturday. At the time, that situation was so deflating and demoralizing, but, we'd been able to sequester ourselves on the bus and in the hotel to make sure that we were on the right page.
"I think it's pretty obvious after tonight's game, that not only did we endure what had happened, but we somehow found a way to get better and improve from it."
The Eagles' 104 points mark the first time Carson-Newman has crested the century mark away from home since Dec. 2, 2016. That day the Eagles' shot 68 percent from the field in a 116-94 triumph at Newberry.
Saturday, Carson-Newman went 35-for-57 from the field to shoot 61.4 percent while knocking down 10-of-21 threes.
Meanwhile, the Eagles' defense had its best 40-minute effort of the year. Carson-Newman's zone bothered the Cobras into a 9-for-37 effort (24.3 percent) from three and a 31-for-78 mark from the field (39.7 percent).
"I thought that today there were stretches that our zone was as good as it could possibly be, and certainly as good as it has been this season," Benson said. "Mason Bates in particular mentioned after the game that he hadn't seen the defense be like this in a while. There are multiple goals that we have within the game that aren't the scoreboard, and we were meeting those goals left and right."
The Eagles' utilized a 15-4 run in the first half to build an eight-point halftime lead before pounding out a 15-3 spurt in the second half to take the lead out to 23 and erase all doubt for a Coker comeback.
In the second half, Carson-Newman led 62-54 with 15:05 to play following a Dakota Jennings putback slam. That's when the Eagles started their flurry. Mason Bates (Cookeville, Tenn.) scored the first five points on the run with a put back layup and a three from the left wing.
Josh Murray (Burlington, N.C.) finished it with a layup off a feed from Reece Anderson (Douglasville, Ga.), an and-one putback and a two-fisted jam to stretch Carson-Newman's lead to 77-57 with 12:31 to play. Two minutes later, the Eagles' had stretched it to 23 with 10:52 left after free throws from Charles Clark (Murfreesboro, Tenn.) and Parker Role' (Atlanta, Ga.)
"We felt that taste in our mouth from Mars Hill and we had to get it out," Clark said. "We tried to play as a team. We were unified and it was fun playing out there today."
The Eagles' turned in a balanced effort with five double-digit scorers. Clark led Carson-Newman in scoring for the 54th time in his career. He finished with 18 points on 5-of-8 shooting from the field and a 7-of-9 tally from the foul line.
Then, Grant Teichmann (Brentwood, Tenn.) reset his career high with 17 points. He was lights out from the field. Teichmann went 5-for-6 from the floor, 3-for-4 from deep. He also handed out six assists for his seventh game this season with at least five helpers.
"We had incredible leadership tonight," Benson said. "Charles took an incredibly serious approach to this game. Grant came in and gave such a solid, heady performance. Cam came in off the bench and had a career night. So many guys did big good things. Give credit to our guys. They collectively followed our plan and we got what we wanted."
On top of that, Cameron Holmes (Fort Mill, S.C.) did something he's never done before – collect a double-double. Holmes dropped 17 points on 6-for-10 shooting and a 4-of-7 effort from three. He also snared a career-best 11 boards.
"Cam's played a lot of basketball for us here to only be a sophomore," Benson said. "He's had inconsistency in his play. We had a pretty serious conversation about that late one night in my office. I have so much respect for him because I think he's pound-for-pound one of the best athletes in this league. He heard it loud and clear and demonstrated what he can be tonight."
Mason Bates (Cookeville, Tenn.) and Role' rounded out the Eagles' double-figure scorers. Bates had 14 and was 5-for-6 from the floor. Role' topped 10 points for the first time this season with 11. He was a flawless 5-for-5 from the floor. Role' came within two rebounds of a double-double.
"Josh had been out with a strained muscle and wanted him to be completely well for the stretch run," Benson said. "Parker really responded. He was a defender and a rebounder. He did good things and was a part of a collective demonstration of what we wanted tonight."
The Eagles dished out at least 21 assists for a seventh game this season.
Coker was led by Jake Barrett who finished with 30 points, the second player to score at least 30 on the Eagles this season. Barettt was 11-of-16 from the floor and 4-for-7 from three.
However, while Barrett went off for a season high, the Eagles' clamped down on potential SAC Freshman of the year Khalil Halls. The freshman came in averaging 14 points per game. He scored 11, but was wildly inefficient. He was 4-for-18 from the floor and 3-for-12 from three.
Donte Samuels and LaDarius Williams rounded out the Cobras' double-digit scorers. They each finished with 13.
"I think when you consider all the factors that led up into this game, I'm as proud of this win as any of them," Benson said. "This one, considering the level of deflation I sensed and all that came from that situation at Mars Hill, to be able to bounce back, show resilience, character and a common connection and love for one another, it's very difficult to express just how much this one means."
The Eagles return home to finish off the month of January at home against Anderson on Wednesday. Tipoff is set for 8 p.m. Pregame coverage begins at 7:45 with the AEC Countdown to Tipoff on Mountain Country 106.3 (WPFT-FM, Sevierville) and online at cneagles.com/live.