VIDEO: Chuck Benson Interview
VIDEO: Zack Pangallo Interview
The win gives Wingate a fourth consecutive this season and in the series against the Eagles, while Carson-Newman sees its string of back-to-back wins come to an end.
The Eagles, who shot 39 percent from the field, limited Wingate to 38.7 percent shooting and 33 percent shooting for the second half as the Eagles rallied to tie the game a couple times in the second half after trailing by 10 early in the stanza. Wingate's shooting effort was also its second worst of the season.
The contest is the first for C-N where both the Eagles and their opponent shot worse than 40 percent from the field since a 56-53 Carson-Newman win at Lenoir-Rhyne from February of 2015.
"If you look at the numbers defensively," head coach Chuck Benson said. "I don't know if both teams were really good defensively, or if both teams were really bad offensively. You have to give credit to them. They had their fair share of adversity the first semester. Now they have veteran performers who are carrying them. What you saw today, was a veteran squad go on the road in a very tough conference and outperform the home team. Pure and simple, I give them credit."
The Bulldogs outrebounded the Eagles 44-37, just the second time the Eagles have been outrebounded this season, and the largest rebounding margin the Eagles have given up.
Most of that rebounding margin came in the second half after the Eagles switched from a consistent man-to-man defense to a 2-2-1 full court press complimented by a matchup zone in the half court.
"We felt like we needed to press the second half and play zone the second half, which we did," Benson said. "We played exclusively man the first half, so the rebounding was less so that half. We felt we needed to go zone and press, which allowed them to rebound more. That enabled us to slow down their scoring punch and get out in transition. We had to change it up, and it made it interesting at least."
C-N trailed by 10 early in the second half following a Josh Dominguez three and a Keith Griffin dunk.
Carson-Newman clawed even with Wingate at 54-54 on a 6-0 run with 9:40 to play following free throws from Parker Role' (Atlanta, Ga.) and Charles Clark (Murfreesboro, Tenn.) plus a three from the left wing from Clark.
Unfortunately for the Eagles, Clark, a SAC player of the year and All-America candidate, went out with an ankle injury a minute later. While the Eagles hung around, they never could get over the hump. Wingate wouldn't lead by more than seven the rest of the way.
"Let's call it like it is, Charles Clark is one of the best players in this conference," Benson said. "He's been a guy who produces and performs at a very high level. We need him on the floor. Despite the fact that we didn't have him down the stretch, the good thing is that it gave some guys some reps in a tough situation."
Clark did return to the game with about three minutes left, but exited shortly after his return.
Both sides featured four double-digit scorers. Sawyer Williams (Owenton, Ky.) led Carson-Newman with 20 points and 11 boards, his fourth double-double of the year and 10th of his career. Shaun Jones (Lawrenceville, Ga.) notched his league-leading eighth double-double of the season with 11 points and 13 boards.
Malik Abraham (Snellville, Ga.) added 18 points and Clark had 17.
Mike Baez led Wingate with 21 points. Keith Griffin chipped in 16. Dominguez and Isiah Cureton added 14 and 10, respectively.
Both teams made concerted efforts to get to the foul stripe, especially in the second half. The Bulldogs knocked down 27-of-35 free throws while Carson-Newman made 26-of-34 freebies.
The Eagles hit the road for back-to-back games away from Holt Fieldhouse. Wednesday takes the Eagles to Brevard for an 8 p.m. tip with the Tornados from Boshamer Gym. 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.