Eagles weather late Catawba rally to win third straight

Eagles weather late Catawba rally to win third straight

VIDEO: Chuck Benson Interview

VIDEO: Charles Clark Interview

VIDEO: Josh Rogers Interview

VIDEO: Highlights

JEFFERSON CITY. Tenn. – Carson-Newman (10-10, 8-6 South Atlantic Conference) held off Catawba (8-11, 6-8 SAC) 77-75 Saturday evening at Holt Fieldhouse after the Eagles only hit two field goals over the game's final seven minutes.

The Eagles win their third straight game - the program's first three-game winning streak this season. 

"The credit goes to the kids," head coach Chuck Benson said. "We wanted to put together a third-straight performance worth of a win.  We did it with Newberry and Anderson, but we knew this would be a challenge.  They'd beaten us earlier this year.  Our guys responded despite being down players.  We had a wide receiver under center instead of our true quarterback.  But Charles Clark and Jay Lane gave us enough quality possessions to get the win."

Carson-Newman got a career night from freshman guard Charles Clark (Murfreesboro, Tenn.).  Forced to play the point much of the night because of injuries, Clark notched his second 20-point game in three contests with 26 points. 

The Eagles trailed by nine in the first half before using a 19-4 run featuring two Clarks steals and coast-to-coast slams to that gave the Eagles their first lead of the night – a lead C-N would not relinquish. 

Carson-Newman took a 37-35 lead into the locker room and built it into a double-digit advantage early in the second half. The Eagles hit their first eight shots of the second half and used a 12-2 run to push the lead out past 10 on a Clark layup 51-40 with 14:08 left in the second half. 

Then the Eagles got back-to-back threes from Andy Barnett (Pigeon Forge, Tenn.) to rip off a 6-1 spurt and extend their lead to 14. 

However, Catawba would not go quietly into the night.  The Indians limited Carson-Newman to just two made shots over the game's final seven minutes while Catawba utilized a 13-2 run to get the game inside a single possession, 71-68, with 2:22 to play following a KJ Arrington dunk. 

A pair of Carson Brooks (Knoxville, Tenn.) free throws with 2:06 left extended the Eagle lead back to five.  However, Arrington landed another blow for the Catawba comeback by draining a corner three with 1:11 left.

After missed Clark layup, Jerrin Morrison was fouled shooting a three.  He would head to the line with a chance to give Catawba its first lead of the half if he could hit all three with 50 seconds remaining. 

Morrison went 1-for-3 on his trip to the line.  A Sawyer Williams (Owenton, Ky.) tip in and a pair of Josh Rogers free throws pushed the Eagle lead back to five points with the aid of a Catawba turnover.

Morrison atoned for his free throw struggles by draining a corner three with six seconds left to cut the lead back to two to force the Eagles to hit free throws.  However, facing a Catawba press, Carson-Newman utilized an innovative inbounds play that allowed them to run the final six seconds off the clock without taking a shot or a free throw. 

Aside from Clark's career high 26, the Eagles got 15 points from Brooks and a double-double, 12 points and 10 rebounds, from Josh Rogers (Bristol, United Kingdom).  Rogers' double-double is his third of the season and his second against Catawba.  Rogers hasn't missed a shot in his last two games.

Arrington led Catawba with 21 points.  He connected on five threes.  The SAC player of the year candidate has now scored 20 points or more in seven of his last eight contests. 

"He is outstanding.  He makes tough, tough shots," Benson said. "But I thought our defense did a really good job of limiting the variety of ways he hurt us.  He made some tough threes, but he wasn't really getting to the rim to attack us."

Reggie Perkins chipped in 14 while Vismantas Marijosious and Morrison added 13. 

"The difference tonight was we were able to score off some inside-out action," Benson said. "Our guys made the right reads when our posts were covered and were able to capitalize in crucial situations.  Such as what Mason Bates and Andy Barnett were able to do."

The Indians' offensive rebounding kept them in the game.  Catawba had 32 boards, 22 of which came on the offensive glass leading to 28 second chance points.  The Indians were 27-for-74 (36.5 percent) from the field.  The Eagles, meanwhile, connected on 57 percent of their shots.  That's four straight games for C-N where the Eagles have hit 54 percent of their shots or better. 

Carson-Newman hits the road Wednesday to take on arch rival LMU, who will likely be No. 1 in the nation when the teams square off.  Tipoff from Tex Turner Arena is 8 p.m.  Pregame coverage on the Eagle Sports Network starts at 7:45 with the AEC Countdown to Tipoff on Mountain Country 106.3 (WPFT-FM, Sevierville) and online at cneagles.com/live.

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