VIDEO: Chuck Benson Interview
OWENSBORO, Ky. – Hillsdale (4-1) outscored Carson-Newman (4-1) 25-9 over the final nine minutes of the first half, then stiff-armed the Eagles in the second stanza to hand Carson-Newman its first loss of the season, Friday afternoon at the Owensboro Sportscenter.
"Hillsdale is a very good basketball team," head coach Chuck Benson said. "We always talk about how the style makes the fight. Well they are a tempo team who really wants to slow things down. We want a faster paced game. When you go out there with the start we have, blasting out of the gates. We dried up a little bit offensively. We were a deflated team when it came to the half and were never able to get out of the funk."
Carson-Newman jumped out of the gates on a 10-0 run, but two quick fouls for Charles Clark (Murfreesboro, Tenn.) sidelined the preseason All-America selection for the final 16 minutes of the half. Clark scored eight of the 10 points on the opening run for the Eagles.
Hillsdale held Carson-Newman to just two made field goals over the final nine minutes of the half while the Chargers built a lead that was as large as 13 points.
"That was obviously a big part. It was the trigger that started the downslide of the game," Benson said of Clark's quick two fouls. "I thought they did a good job of being physical with Shaun and making it tough for him. Today isn't a great example of what we are. A lot of credit goes to Hillsdale to taking advantages of the opportunities given to them and really exploiting them."
A dunk by Malik Abraham gave C-N a 21-16 lead with 11:33 to play. That's when the Chargers started their onslaught. A Stedman Lowry three put the Chargers up 35-26 with 2:22 to play before a pair of Nate Neveau free throws pushed the lead to double digits with a minute and five seconds to play in the half.
Carson-Newman used an 8-0 run in the second half to cut the lead down to three numerous times, but the Eagles could never push past the hump. A Stedman Lowry three following a floater in the lane from his younger brother Dylan sent the Chargers on an 11-2 run to close the game and set the final margin at 73-61.
Sawyer Williams (Owenton,Ky,) and Clark led the charge for the Eagles. Williams had 23 points on 10-for-13 shooting to set a season high. He also added six boards. Clark had 19. He was a flawless 4-for-4 from distance and 7-for-10 from the field.
While the Eagles two preseason All-SAC first teamers were on display, the rest of the team struggled. Carson-Newman shot 47.2 percent for the game. However, you excluded Williams and Clark's numbers, that number falls 27 percent (8-for-30).
"This is a place you can make shots. Today we just didn't make them," Benson said. "Malik (Abraham), Zack (Pangallo) and Cameron (Holmes) can all make shots. They didn't today. But that's not indicative of us. We have to regroup and bounce back quickly."
Hillsdale shot 57.7 percent in the first half and finished shooting at a 50 percent clip. It marks a third straight game where the Eagles' opponent has shot at least 50 percent from the floor.
Hillsdale was led by Dylan Lowery, the younger Lowery brother scored 17 points off the bench. His elder brother Stedman had 13. Ryan Badowski added 15 and Rhett Smith had 10.
Carson-Newman trailed at the half for a fourth straight contest, however, unlike the previous three, Carson-Newman was unable to fully rally in the second half to complete the comeback.
The Eagles will play for third place in the Hampton Inn Kentucky Wesleyan Thanksgiving Tournament. Tipoff Saturday is set for 3 p.m. Coverage on the Eagle Sports Network starts at 2:45 with the AEC Countdown to Tipoff on Mountain Country 106.3 (WPFT-FM, Sevierville) and online at cneagles.com/live.