VIDEO: Chuck Benson Interview
CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Fifth-ranked Queens (19-1, 13-1 South Atlantic Conference) blocked a shot with five seconds left and Carson-Newman (12-8, 9-5 SAC) couldn't get off a second, game-tying attempt as the Eagles fell 72-70 Saturday evening at Curry Arena.
The loss obfuscates a furious C-N rally to comeback from an 18-point first half deficit. Had the Eagles completed the comeback, it would have been the second largest come-from-behind win of the Chuck Benson era, and the third largest comeback since the year 2000.
"So close, but yet so far," head coach Chuck Benson said. "Queens is outstanding. That's a team that went on the road and beat (Division I) VCU. Give complete credit to the fact that Queens is outstanding. Give credit to our guys for continuing to fight. Unfortunately, the thing that concerns me is that we've been exposed on multiple levels in these kinds of matchups (against top-flight competition)."
For a second straight night, the Eagles' struggled out of the gates. Queens raced out on a 13-3 run bolstered by a pair of Jalin Alexander threes. A 7-0 run later in the half extended the Royals lead to 18, 30-12 with 5:08 to play on a dunk by Daniel Camps.
Carson-Newman closed the half on a 7-2 spurt to head into the lockerroom down nine, then the Eagles' used a 17-6 run in the second half to tie the game at 65 following a free three by Malik Abraham with 2:05 to play.
The Royals were able to make it a five-point game with 37 seconds left following a pair of Ike Agusi free throws, but the Eagles still managed to make it interesting.
After a miss, and a scramble for a rebound, Zack Pangallo (Newport, Ky.) came away with a loose ball at the head of the key and drained an open three to reduce the Royals lead to two. Mike Davis saw the inbounds pass glance off his foot, giving the ball back to the Eagles with a chance to tie with 16 seconds left.
The Eagles went to Shaun Jones (Lawrenceville, Ga.). The junior cut down the right side of the lane for a seemingly open right—handed layup. However, the Royals Jared Hendryx rotated over late with helpside defense and blocked the shot. The ball landed on the floor with Sawyer Williams (Owenton, Ky,) and a pair of Royal post players scrapping for the ball. The final four seconds came off the clock without the ball leaving the floor, preserving the win for the Royals.
Defense kept C-N in the contest. The Eagles forced 24 Queens turnovers while C-N held QU 16 points under their scoring average.
"We played 40 minutes of our zone, and they still got free and made some shots," Benson said. "When you consider the first outing, we did a much better job of keeping their scoring punch down, but we couldn't put together 20 minutes together."
The loss sees an epic streak come to an end. Charles Clark (Murfreesboro, Tenn.) had scored 10 or more points in 52 consecutive games. Thanks to foul trouble and limited minutes, the All-America candidate and reigning USBWA national player of the week finished with seven points. He only attempted three shots on the day in 16 minutes of action. The three shots are a career low for games in which he starts.
The last time Clark didn't score 10 or more was in a 90-60 loss at Holt Fieldhouse to Lincoln Memorial on Feb. 25 of his freshman year. Following that game, Clark closed his freshman season with five straight 20-point games and SAC tournament MVP honors.
"Anytime you're without Charles, it's huge," Benson said. "We believe that games are won in the second half, and it played out like that. Do we have as rough a start if he plays more than three minutes in the first half, I don't think so. He doesn't intend to get in foul trouble, but it happened."
Jones led Carson-Newman with 16 points and nine rebounds. Williams added 14 on 5-of-8 shooting. Pangallo and Malik Abraham (Snellville, Ga.) chipped in 13 and 11, respectively.
Alexander led the way for Queens with a 20-point effort. The sharpshooter finished six-for-eight from deep. Todd Withers added a double-double with 13 points and 13 boards.
The Eagles were limited to a season-low six assists.
"Both Lincoln Memorial and Queens are able to control the ball defensively in one-on-one situations without help," Benson said. "We had a major problem of creating situations where they needed to help. Therefore, there wasn't anybody to share the ball with."
Carson-Newman starts the month of February at home against Mars Hill on Wednesday. Tipoff with the Lions is set for 8 p.m. 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.