Eagles rally from 14-point deficit, burst Bears’ bubble 80-76

Eagles rally from 14-point deficit, burst Bears’ bubble 80-76

VIDEO: Chuck Benson interview

VIDEO: Jared Johnson interview

VIDEO: Andy Barnett interview

VIDEO: Highlights

JEFFERSON CITY, Tenn. – Carson-Newman (3-6, 2-3 South Atlantic Conference) fought back from a 14-point halftime deficit with a 22-8 second-half run to take an 80-76 decision over Lenoir-Rhyne (3-6, 1-4 SAC) Wednesday night at Holt Fieldhouse.

The Bears drained 10-of-13 first half threes en route to a 46-32 halftime lead.  The Bears' 10 treys matched their season high set earlier this year in a win over Anderson. However, the Eagles kept L-R to just 3-for-12 shooting from deep in the second half to help spark the rally. 

"That first half was in my estimation the worst half of basketball in my time as head coach here," head coach Chuck Benson said. "I thought we came back with poise and by the first media timeout, all the momentum had shifted."

The Eagles exploded out of the gates in the second half. C-N brought the deficit inside 10 points on a Josh Rogers (Bristol, United Kingdom) short-corner jumper with 18:25 left in the game, inside 5 points on two Sawyer Williams (Owenton, Ky.) free throws at the 16:00 mark and finally knotted the game at 54 with 12:16 to play on a Jared Johnson (Springfield, Mass.) three. 

C-N took its first lead of the game since an opening 3-0 advantage 25 seconds into the contest with 8:51 to play on a Johnson transition triple from the right wing.

Neither team would lead by more than four points the rest of the way.  The Eagles got the lead for good with 1:58 left in the contest when Andy Barnett (Pigeon Forge, Tenn.) buried his fifth trey of the game from the right corner. 

"Coach just told us to run hard to the corners to flatten the defense," Barnett said. "We found Reid (Burke) in the high post. He found me in the right corner, and I was fortunate to hit it."

Up 75-73, the Eagles would knock down 5-of-6 free throws over the next 118 seconds to ice the game.

Carson-Newman was led by Johnson's 19 points.  He nailed a career high five threes on 10 attempts. Barnett also reset his career high with 15 points, all from beyond the arc.  Carson Brooks (Knoxville, Tenn.) and Williams added 12 and 11 points, respectively. 

"We're constantly trying to teach our guys how to handle rough spots," Benson said. "We were having trouble getting shots off at the rim, but I've come to find that 18 to 20-year-old kids are pretty resilient.  They went out and played and responded to that."

The Eagles' 13 made threes are a season high and the most the Eagles have made since draining 15 last February at Brevard. 

C-N also turned the ball over a season low 10 times while assisting on 19 of 25 made baskets.

The Eagles kept the league's second leading scorer, Lenoir-Rhyne's Will Perry 12 points under his average.  The junior guard finished with eight points and was 2-of-6 from the field. 

"We made a big deal in our preparation about keeping him (Perry) at bay and forcing other kids to step up," Benson said. "And to L-R's credit they had three freshman step up.  But we were very thankful we were able to keep Perry and Rob Noyes at bay."

The Bears were led by freshman seven-footer Jake Wilson's 17 points and 10 rebounds. Reed Lucas and Justice Morgan added 14 and 13 points, respectively. 

C-N is bask in action Saturday at 2 p.m. against Tennessee Wesleyan inside Holt Fieldhouse.  Pregame coverage on the Eagle Sports Network gets underway at 1:45 p.m. with the Appalachian Electric Cooperative Countdown to Tipoff on Mountain Country 106.3 (WPFT-FM, Sevierville) and online at cneagles.com/live.  

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