NEWBERRY, S.C. – Carson-Newman (8-10, 6-6 South Atlantic Conference) battled back from a pair of double-digit deficits behind a trio of 20-point performances to earn a gutty 101-92 two-overtime victory at Newberry (13-5, 7-5 SAC) Saturday afternoon.
For the first time this century, Carson-Newman finished with three players on the plus side of 20 points. Carson Brooks (Knoxville, Tenn.) came within one of his career high with 25 points. Sawyer Williams (Owenton, Ky.) reset his season high with 22 points while Charles Clark (Murfreesboro, Tenn.) had 22 to reestablish his career high.
"That's by far our grittiest effort in a game this year," head coach Chuck Benson said. "That's an NCAA tournament team. To do this here today against them on their floor, to say that I'm proud of our guys is an understatement. This was as gritty as it gets."
The Wolves used a 13-2 run midway through the second half to turn a one-point Carson-Newman lead into a nine-point Wolves' advantage. In that three-minute span, Carson-Newman turned it over five times in six possessions.
The Eagles would make a run of it late. After trailing by 10, 63-53 with, C-N rattled off a 14-4 run to tie the game at 67 with 2:33 to play on a Josh Rogers (Bristol, United Kingdom) layup.
A corner jumper from Mitch Riggs gave Newberry a 71-69 lead with 37 seconds left. Jared Johnson (Springfield, Mass.) was fouled on his way up the floor but could only hit one-of-two free throws.
C-N fouled the Wolves' Demarkus Smith on the ensuring possession and the senior drained a pair of free throws to push the Wolves lead to 73-70.
However, the Eagles' Johnson would force overtime with a three-pointer from the right wing with 12 seconds left.
"It's funny," Benson said. "We had a misdirection window screen for Charles, Newberry guarded that well. There was a smaller kid on Jared, he decided to take that step back three and it sends us to overtime."
The squads battled back and forth in the first overtime and a Williams layup twisted in to tie the first OT at 85 with six seconds left. Mason Bates (Cookeville, Tenn.) was able to steal the Wolves' inbounds pass and call timeout; however, Clark's potential game-winning layup rimmed out to send the game to a second five minutes worth of bonus basketball.
The Eagles and Wolves swapped the first five points of the second overtime period before the Eagles' rattled off a 7-0 run to take a three-possession lead 97-90 with 91 seconds left in overtime thanks to a pair of Clark free throws.
Carson-Newman was 9-for-11 from the field in the overtime periods and 10-for-14 from the foul line.
"Charles Clark played like a man today," Benson said. "He was out of position after Jared fouled out in overtime. We had guys do things today that they had not been asked to do prior. To see them step up like that speaks volumes. We try not to get too high or too low, but this will be a nice bus ride back to Jeff City."
Rogers and Bates rounded out the Eagles double-digit scorers with 12 and 11 points respectively. Brooks collected his second double-double in as many games with 11 boards. Clark was a board away from a double-double with a career high nine rebounds.
Carson-Newman was able to pull out the win in spite of turning it over 31 times. That's the most turnovers for C-N since the Eagles lost it a school-record 39 times in a 99-89 win over Newberry in 2011.
The Eagles shot a season-high 56 percent from the field while limiting Newberry to 41 percent shooting. The Wolves were led by Demarkus Smith's career high 30 points and 10 rebounds.
C-N dominated the glass, outrebounding the Wolves 49-39. The Eagles were also assertive inside, outscoring the Wolves 66-32 in the paint. Carson-Newman had never eclipsed the 60-point barrier for points in the paint under head coach Chuck Benson.
Carson-Newman returns home Wednesday for a matchup with the Anderson Trojans. Tipoff from Holt Fieldhouse is set for 8 p.m. Pregame coverage on the Eagle Sports Network starts at 7:45 with the Appalachian Electric Cooperative Countdown to Tipoff on Mountain Country 106.3 (WPFT-FM, Sevierville) and online at cneagles.com/live.