Eubanks, Eagles pull away early against Bluefield, 99-80

Eubanks, Eagles pull away early against Bluefield, 99-80

JEFFERSON CITY- The Carson-Newman Eagles hosted Bluefield College in the final men's basketball game before the Christmas break Saturday afternoon at Holt Field House. The Eagles probably thought Santa came a little early because the only way to describe Carson-Newman's three-point shooting in the first half was gifted.

The Eagles started hitting three's early in the contest and didn't stop as C-N had 11 three's in the first 20 minutes of the contest and finished with 13. That was enough to give the home team a 99-80 win over Bluefield and improve the Eagles' record to 8-4 on the season. The Rams fall to 8-8.

C-N used a balanced attack as 11 different Eagles scored, led by Antoine Davis' 26 points. Kennedy Eubanks had 21 points and Ishmael Sanders added 16. The Eagles finished the game with a 51% field goal percentage (36-of-70) and out-rebounded the Rams 50-34.

"We told our guys at halftime that we had shot the ball well and while we didn't talk about cooling off, we did want to establish more of an inside presence and get points at the line and our guys followed that lead," Carson-Newman head coach Chuck Benson said after the win over Bluefield.

"This was a coming out party for Kennedy," Benson said of Eubanks who added 14 rebounds to go along with his 21 points. "He is just getting better and better every time we play. Antoine (Davis) is one of the better scorers in our league. Ishmael (Sanders) had a solid game with 16 points, five assists and two steals," Benson said.

The Eagles opened the contest on fire from outside, hitting three straight shots from long to open the contest. It was a foreshadowing of what was to come in the first half. Carson-Newman shot an incredible 58% from three-point range in the first half, connecting on 11 of their 19 shots from downtown.

Byron Carpenter, who exploded for 38 points and 11 rebounds, kept the Rams in the contest as he scored 12 of their first 18 points. Carpenter scored four straight to give Bluefield a 30-29 lead at the 9:27 mark. But that was when the wheels fell off for the Rams as Carson-Newman went on a 16-0 run, a run which started and ended with a three-pointer by Antoine Davis as the Eagles were rolling.

After Carpenter stopped the bleeding with five points on two consecutive possessions, the Eagles took flight again, scoring eight straight with three pointers by Sanders and Eubanks. Marcellous Perez banged home a trey with just over a minute to go and that was enough to give the Eagles a 57-41 lead at the half.

The Rams opened the second half by cutting the lead down to 11 points but C-N responded once again with a run, this time seven straight to go up 64-46 just three minutes into the contest. The Eagles pushed the ball inside and the result was C-N went to the free throw line 19 times in the second half, hitting 14. The inside-outside combination was just too much for the Rams to handle as Carson-Newman won 99-80.

The loss avenged a loss to the Rams last year and Benson said there was a concern coming in with the way Bluefield shot the ball, especially from long-range. "They are number one in the country in NAIA in scoring and in three-point field goals made. So we were a little concerned but we came out with a lot of focus trying to get a win," Benson stated.

The Eagles will return to action in 2012 when they return to conference play with a home game against Brevard on January 4.