JEFFERSON CITY, Tenn. – Sophomores Antoine Davis (Rustburg, Va.) and Ishmael Sanders (Cleveland, Tenn.) combined for 37 points and Carson-Newman made 10 three pointers to beat visiting Catawba on Wednesday night, 74-66, in its South Atlantic Conference opener.
Davis had 21 points and Sanders added 16 as the Eagles made 5-of-10 three-pointers in the second half to hold off Catawba. With the win, the Eagles improve to 5-3 overall and 1-0 in SAC play, while Catawba falls to 3-3 and 0-1 in SAC play.
"I like the direction we're going," Eagle head coach Chuck Benson said after the game. "This is a good win for us, but we're still a very young team. We've just got to get better in practice day after day."
The Eagles hit their final three three-point attempts in the first half to rally from a 25-24 deficit and take an eight point lead at 33-25 in a back-and-forth first half. A layup by Tyrece Little (Greenville, N.C.) just before the end of the half cut into the lead.
C-N broke open a six-point game at the half with a 15-6 run early in the second half. Three pointers from Sanders and Kevin Leatherwood (Charlottesville, Va.) and a three-point play Davis sparked the Eagles to a 52-38 lead with 12:36 left to play, but Catawba answered back.
Seven straight points from Keon Moore (Colerain, N.C) and a dunk put back by Little cut the Eagles lead to 54-51 with 7:59 to play.
Mid-range jumpers from Davis and Kennedy Eubanks (Pendleton, S.C.) helped the Eagles build the lead back out to eight at 64-56 with 5:21 to play. Sanders provided all the offense the Eagles needed down the stretch, knocking down a pair of threes in the final four minutes as C-N held on.
Davis finished 9-of-18 from the floor and carried the Eagles with a number of key jumpers during scoring droughts, while Sanders came up big in the closing minutes.
Eubanks and junior point guard Marcellous Perez (Jacksonville, N.C.) came up with their best games during their first seasons at Mossy Creek. Eubanks slashed his way a double-double with 14 points and 10 boards, while Perez played 24 minutes off the bench, scoring 11 points on a perfect 4-of-4 from the floor. He had four assists and no turnovers.
Guard Willie Gilmore (Fayetteville, N.C.) led Catawba with 15 points, while Little had 13 points, 10 rebounds, and four blocks. Moore was 3-of-19 from the floor and finished with nine points for Catawba.
C-N was 10-of-25 from three-point range, while Catawba was 3-of-19, which turned out be the key stat in the game.
Carson-Newman returns to action with its SAC road opener on Saturday at Wingate University. Tipoff is at 4 p.m. in Cuddy Arena.