VIDEO: Chuck Benson Interview
VIDEO: Charles Clark Interview
VIDEO: Malik Abraham Interview
JEFFERSON CITY, Tenn. – On his 21st birthday, Charles Clark (Murfreesboro, Tenn.) tallied his second triple-double in as many games inside Holt Fieldhouse as Carson-Newman (17-10, 14-7 South Atlantic Conference) dominated wire-to-wire in a 96-54 win over Brevard (2-25, 0-21 SAC) Wednesday night at Holt Fieldhouse.
The Eagles are ranked 10th in the latest region ranking, the same spot as last week's poll which goes on to determine the best eight teams from the Southeast Region which advance on to the NCAA tournament. The win clinches Carson-Newman a first round home game for the South Atlantic Conference tournament March 1. C-N is guaranteed to be the four seed.
Clark shredded Brevard for 33 points, a season high, with 11 rebounds and 11 assists, a career high.
"There's a side to it beyond his birthday that makes it even better," head coach Chuck Benson said. "After shoot around today, I pulled him to the side and asked him if it would be unrealistic of me to ask him to have a triple-double or score 55 to 60 points. I'm serious as a heart attack.
"He looks at me and says, 'Well, I've never gone into a game trying to do that,' I asked him to try to do that. If I had only known that a simple request would bring that about, we would have been making that request a lot. For him to do that on request, makes this unbelievable unique."
Clark's effort was split nearly evenly between the halves. He had 18 points, seven boards and five assists at the break before finishing with 15, four and six after halftime. Clark was 10-for-15 from the field and 4-for-6 from three.
He was a big impetus for a dominant Eagle start. C-N jumped out of the gates on a 20-1 run and led wire-to-wire for the second time this season.
Clark and Malik Abraham combined for the Eagles first 16 points. Clark either scored or assisted the first 13 points of the game.
"I went hard at our guys to see what they would bring tonight, regardless of outcome," Benson said. "Brevard has had a tough season, but they are well coached, and have a unique scheme that can make things tough on you. Our guys were just determined on both sides of the ball. We were very intentional about what we did offensively and defensively, and I loved that we didn't have any let up in either the first or second half."
With a double-digit lead in hand for much of the first half, C-N left no doubt it would drill Brevard with a 28-6 run spanning the halftime break. Sawyer Williams (Owenton, Ky.) worked down on the low block to score six of the final eight points of the first half to send C-N into the locker room up 47-28.
Carson-Newman kept up the pressure in the second half. Back-to-back layups from Shaun Jones (Lawrenceville, Ga.) and Williams gave the Eagles their first 30-point lead , 61-31, 5:31 into the stanza. Brevard would get no closer than 25 the rest of the way.
"We knew we had a bunch of new guys this year with some solid returners, and then when you have the injuries we've encountered, we weren't sure what this team could achieve," Benson said. "To be 14-7 in conference play, to have a home game in the first round, I'm pleased and proud and feel like we're making strides as we head to postseason."
Aside from Clark's 33-11-11 performance, the Eagles got 20 points from Williams, who moved into 14th place on the all-time scoring list past Jerry Cannon. Williams was an effective 8-for-10 from the field.
Abraham represented C-N's third double-digit scorer with 16 points. He went 3-for-6 from deep.
The Eagles shot 61 percent for the game, including 70.4 percent for the second half. C-N dominated just about every stat category on Brevard. They outrebounded the Tornados 43-24, had more assists 23-9 and outscored Brevard in the paint 50-18.
The only category that the Eagles didn't win was steals. C-N had two. Brevard had three in a crisp game.
Levi Lamb led Brevard in scoring with 14 points. Brevard shot 31.8 percent from the field and was a woeful 7-for-31 from three.
The 55 points are the fewest C-N has allowed since giving up 55 last year to the Tornados at Boshamer Gym in a 102-55 win. That was also the last time C-N beat a team by more than 40.
The Eagles conclude the regular season Saturday with senior day against Coker. Tipoff is at 4 p.m. Pregame coverage starts at 3:45 with the AEC Countdown to Tipoff on Mountain Country 106.3 (WPFT-FM, Sevierville) and online at cneagles.com/live.