VIDEO: Chuck Benson Interview
VIDEO: Charles Clark Interview
VIDEO: Reece Anderson Interview
ANDERSON, S.C. – Carson-Newman (14-9, 11-6 South Atlantic Conference) head men's basketball coach Chuck Benson notched his 250th career victory as the Eagles stiff-armed Anderson (10-13, 8-9 SAC) Wednesday night at the Abney Center.
"This is all about the players," Benson sad. "Players are the ones that go out and win games. I'm thankful that I've had the chance to go out and coach a lot of guys who have helped win a lot more than we've lost over the year."
The win snaps a three-game road losing streak for the Eagles. C-N has now defeated Anderson on four straight occasions, the longest winning streak for the Eagles in series history. The Eagles also extended their string of consecutive wins in South Carolina to 11.
That 11th straight win in the Palmetto State wasn't an easy one. Carson-Newman used a 14-3 first half run to build a 15-point lead, only for Anderson to use a 10-1 run coupled with a pair of 8-1 spurts in the second half to make things interesting down the stretch.
However, Charles Clark (Murfreesboro, Tenn.) and a season-high 27 points from the junior helped pave the way for the Eagle win.
"Charles Clark rose up and refused to let this team lose," Benson said. "We ran some ball screens for Charles that opened him up. Shane and Ray made that suggestion and that allowed us to create just enough separation to get the win. Our guys learned from the last two road games that we lost on the last possessions. They weren't going to be denied today."
The Trojans final charge started with under seven minutes to play and AU down 61-54. A three from Andrew Boynton followed by layups from Carlos Dotson and Lex Davis pulled the Trojans in front for the first time with 4:53 to play in the contest.
The teams swapped leads four times and were tied four more times over the final 4:53. Malik Abraham (Snellville, Ga.) delivered the death knell for the Eagles with 38 seconds left. The sophomore buried a three from the left point to give the Eagles a 70-67 lead. After a defensive stop and a Cameron Holmes (Fort Mill, S.C.) free throw, Lex Davis trimmed it back to a one-point game with eight seconds left.
Clark re-extended the lead back to three with a pair of freebies, then Shaun Jones (Lawrenceville, Ga.) tracked down a pass over the top with four seconds left to prevent Anderson from getting off one final shot, securing the win for the Eagles.
The 70 points AU scored are tied for the lowest that C-N has given up this year. The Trojans shot 40.7 percent for the game, and 47 percent for the second half. Anderson was a paltry 9-for-27 from the field and 2-for-13 from three in the first half as C-N built its 15-point lead. \
"Anderson got away from what they do in the first half," Benson said. "What they did in the second half was random and chaotic. It had no pattern. We struggled. It impacted our thinking and hurt our ability to contain. We also came out a little flat in the second half and that hurt us some."
Clark had eight rebounds to go along with his game-high 27 points. Abraham tossed in 17. He went 6-for-16 from the floor and 4-for-12 from three. Sawyer Williams (Owenton, Ky.) was the only other Eagle in double figures. He stretched a consecutive double-digit scoring streak to 30 games with the effort. Shaun Jones (Lawrenceville, Ga.) set a career high with five steals.
Carson-Newman shot 46.6 percent from the field. The Eagles forced 14 turnovers, nine of which came on steals. C-N outscored AU 17-10 in points off turnovers.
Maurice Howard led Anderson with 19 points. Andrew Boynton added in 18. Randall Shaw, the league's leading scorer, returned from injury to score a season-low six points. He was 1-for-10 from the field and 1-for-7 from three.
After playing four of the last five games away from home, the Eagles return to Holt Fieldhouse for a 4 p.m. tip with Lenoir-Rhyne Saturday. Coverage begins at 3:45 with the AEC Countdown to Tipoff on the Eagle Sports Network on Mountain Country 106.3 (WPFT-FM, Sevierville) and online at cneagles.com/live.