VIDEO: C-N Press Conference
GREENVILLE, S.C. – No. 4 Lincoln Memorial (26-4) drilled 17 threes and used a trio of big runs to bury Carson-Newman (19-11) 105-62 Saturday night at Timmons Arena.
The Eagles will await their NCAA tournament fate with the NCAA's selection show Sunday at 10:30 p.m. At present standing the Eagles are on the outside looking in. C-N was ranked ninth in the final region ranking.
The 43-point loss is the second biggest defeat in school history. Only a 104-58 loss to then No. 1 Kentucky State in the 1978-79 season was worse than the Eagles' semifinal defeat.
"Take outcome out of this," head coach Chuck Benson said. "This was not the performance that we are proud of at any level. It starts at the top. I felt like we had the right plan in place. We had a problem executing that and seeing it through. Credit goes to Lincoln Memorial. They are an outstanding team. But at the same time, we didn't perform anywhere near close to where we are capable of performing. I'm embarrassed personally for this performance, and take full responsibility for it."
Carson-Newman started the game by hitting 4 of its first 5 shots in taking a 9-4 lead. It was all LMU from there. The Railsplitters responded by going on a 13-0 run while the Eagles weathered a 6:30 scoring drought. After the 4-of-5 start from the field
LMU led by 22 at the break on the heels of a 10-0 run. The Splitters didn't let up in the second half. LMU knocked down 9 of its first 11 shots and 5 of its first six threes to quickly balloon the lead out to 36 four minutes into the second half.
"You could see the momentum and the energy raising in them," Benson said. "There was a major shift in competitiveness, and we didn't counterpunch or respond. Knowing that program like I do, I knew we had created a nightmare for ourselves. That became very apparent for the next 30 minutes."
The Railsplitters move on the South Atlantic Conference Championship Game at 4 p.m. Sunday. LMU takes on the winner of Queens and Wingate.
Shaun Jones (Lawrenceville, Ga.) led Carson-Newman with his school-record 13th double-double of the year. He led C-N with 17 points and 10 rebounds.
Sawyer Williams (Owenton, Ky.) added 13 points. The senior bypassed Antoine Davis for 12th on the all-time scoring list and third in the Division II era. Williams likely finishes his career with 1,528 career points. Williams has averaged 61.4 percent shooting for his tenure at Mossy Creek – good for second all-time in South Atlantic Conference history.
His 580 career made field goals are good for eighth all-time in conference history. Williams scored double-digits in 37 straight games, the second longest streak in school history.
Charles Clark was the Eagles third double-digit scorer. The SAC Player of the Year had 16 points, but wasn't his normally efficient self. Clark went 5-for-17 from the field and 2-for-8 from three. He ends his junior season with 1,604 points.
Trevon Shaw and Luquon Choice led Lincoln Memorial with 30 and 21, respectively. Choice went 7-for-11 from beyond the arc while Shaw, a 34 percent shooter from three this season, knocked down 6-of-10 attempts from deep.
The Eagles were limited to a season-low six assists on 23 made shots. Carson-Newman finished the game shooting a season-low 34.8 percent from the field. The Railsplitters connected on 53.7 percent of their shots and 48.6 percent of their threes. LMU knocked down 17 from deep – the most the Eagles have allowed all year. The 17 threes are four off Catawba's SAC tournament record of 21, set against Wingate in 1998.
Carson-Newman ends its season 19-11, just missing out on its first 20-win season since 2012-13.
For offseason updates on the Eagles, follow @cnathletics and @cn_hoops on Twitter.