GREENVILLE, S.C. – Carson-Newman's (20-8) bid to make its first SAC title game since 2001-02 fell short as top-seeded LMU (24-4) closed the semifinal matchup on an 11-3 run to knock the Eagles out of the postseason 69-59.
Carson-Newman trailed by one with just over four minutes left, but LMU used the run to the seal the game and a berth in the title game against Wingate.
The Railsplitters held the Eagles without a rebound over the final four minutes en route to smashing the Eagles on the glass 37-26.
"The rebounding down the stretch killed us," C-N head men's basketball coach Chuck Benson said. "They got critical rebounds. They're so big and physical with tough bodies, that's just not where we are right now."
Ish Sanders (Cleveland, Tenn.) led the Eagles with 18 points while Antoine Davis added16. Carson Brooks (Knoxville, Tenn.) rounded out the Eagles double figure scorers with 12 on three-of-four shooting, including five-of-seven at the charity stripe.
The Eagles finished with 20 wins for the first time since 2002-03 and made the semifinals of the SAC tournament for just the second time in the last decade.
"I was happy for our team that we've made steady year-by-year improvement (with those two players)," Benson said. "We try to end on a positive note and be reflective and appreciate the time that we've been together."
Carson-Newman got to 20 wins in spite of losing three potential starters throughout or before the year in Kevin Leatherwood (Charlottesville, Va.), Corbin Jackson (Rutledge, Fla.) and Odell Parker (Knoxville, Tenn.).
Sanders and Davis finish their junior seasons on the cusp of a couple milestones. Sanders is 15 points away from moving into eighth place on the all-time scoring list while Davis sits 17 away from 1,000 for his career.