VIDEO: Chuck Benson Interview
VIDEO: Jay Lane Interview
VIDEO: Sawyer Williams Interview
WINGATE, N.C. – Carson-Newman (13-11, 11-7 South Atlantic Conference) collected its fourth consecutive win against Wingate (14-10, 11-7 SAC) with a 71-67 victory against the Bulldogs Saturday afternoon at Cuddy Arena.
The fourth straight wins over the Bulldogs are the most consecutive wins Carson-Newman has ever strung together against Wingate. The Eagles sweep the season series with the Bulldogs for just the third time in series' history – a feat C-N accomplished last year and during the 1990-91 season.
With the win and a 74-73 loss by Queens at home to Mars Hill, Carson-Newman moves into second place in the South Atlantic Conference standings with the Royals and Bulldogs.
"I thought our guys really responded well and bounced back from our loss to Brevard," head coach Chuck Benson said. "It's sort of bizarre how much better we perform away from home. We came over here today with a lot of confidence and poise. There are so many good things that happened. We took care of the basketball, we rebounded the basketball and we shot the basketball well."
Carson-Newman scored off all nine of its offensive rebounds. The Eagles collected nine offensive caroms and converted all nine into 21 second chance points. The Eagles outscored the Bulldogs in that category 21-5. Carson-Newman also dominated the paint, outscoring the Bulldogs 46-28 in the paint.
"We made a big deal about getting guys to get second and third shots," Benson said. "Especially on the road against a stingy defensive team like Wingate, those first shots are hard to score, those second and thirds from a percentage standpoint are a lot easier. Our guys were tenacious and really cleaned up missed shots very well."
Sawyer Williams (Owenton, Ky.) led C-N with 22 points on 10-for-14 shooting. He accounted for six of C-N's 21 second chance points.
"First off, Sawyer has had a couple games in terms of point production he hasn't quite been up to par with what he normally does because of the way people have been playing him," Benson said. "But today, he had great confidence to shoot over top of long athletic bigs and he was finishing. I was really happy for Sawyer."
Wingate took a nine-point lead with 7:04 left in the first half after a Dustin Dodd triple. However, the Eagles outscored the Bulldogs 18-6 over the half's final minutes to take a 31-26 lead into the locker room.
Carson-Newman ballooned the lead out to 11 with 12:58 left in the second half on a Sawyer Williams hookshot.
However, the Bulldogs would not go quietly into the night. A 9-2 Bulldog run cut the deficit to three with 6:46 to play following an Isaiah Cureton lay in. Carson-Newman punched back with a 9-1 sport to push the lead back to double digits with 4:22 to play. The run was highlighted by a Williams and-one and a Jay Lane (Manassas, Va.) baseline jumper.
Wingate would make it a game late as C-N went three minutes without a field goal until the 21-second mark when the Eagles snapped the drought on a Charles Clark (Murfreesboro, Tenn.) runner. Clark's shot put the Eagles ahead 68-62. Clark and Josh Rogers (Bristol, United Kingdom) each hit free throws to help keep the Bulldogs at bay and cinch the win.
Clark had 16 points on 4-of-8 shooting. He went 7-for-9 at the charity stripe. Carson Brooks (Knoxville, Tenn.) chipped in 12 points and came a rebound shy of a double-double.
Wingate got a career high 22 points from Xavier Griffin. Anthannee Doyle added 13.
Carson-Newman shot 49 percent from the field for the game but was 12-for-21 (57.1 percent) in the second half.
A game after turning the ball over 21 times against Brevard, the Eagles only coughed it up 13 times against Wingate. However, perhaps the biggest turnover of the day belonged to Benson, who may or may not have forgotten it was Valentine's Day. Reportedly, Benson made a spectacular save by telling his wife he loved her on-air during the Eagle Sports Network's Dominos Postgame Report. Details of flowers, chocolate or a romantic dinner for two were not available at press time.
Carson-Newman hits the road again Wednesday to face off with Anderson. Tipoff between the Trojans and Eagles 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.