VIDEO: Chuck Benson Interview
VIDEO: Mason Bates Interview
VIDEO: Charles Clark Interview
JEFFERSON CITY, Tenn. – Carson-Newman (4-0) got a dagger from the head of the key from Mason Bates (Cookeville, Tenn.) in the final seconds to propel the Eagles to a riveting 92-91 win over King (2-2) Saturday night at Holt Fieldhouse.
"We had told them in a previous timeout that we had two possessions coming up," head coach Chuck Benson said. "We had them score on a designated play, which Charles Clark did. Then we impressed upon them that we had to get a stop and that stop had to include a defensive rebound.
"Typically, the timeout the defense to get set. We wanted to keep them in a scramble and that's the reason why I philosophically chose to do that. We wanted to play it out. Thankfully, Mason stepped up and hit the shot."
Bates last-second heroics capped a three-point shooting clinic in the Eagles' home opener. Carson-Newman buried 12-of-19 shots from distance to shoot better than 60 percent from long range for the first time since February, 24, 2016. That day the Eagles went 11-for-18 at Brevard.
The three was the result of teeter-totter contest. King utilized a pair of 7-0 first-half runs to push the lead out to 12 in the first half, 28-16 with 9:39 to play in the opening frame following a Mack Owens layup.
Carson-Newman slowly whittled the lead down to seven by halftime, then exploded out of the gates in the second half with an 8-0 run. Carson-Newman grabbed its first lead since the opening minutes with threes from Charles Clark (Murfreesboro, Tenn.) and Cameron Holmes (Fort Mill, S.C.) not even four minutes into the second half.
Pretty pictures following a dagger in the final seconds from @masonbates_33.— C-N Athletics (@CNathletics) November 19, 2017
See how the Eagles got there in a one-point win over King in the postgame infographic. pic.twitter.com/PUu7KRImpk
The Eagles stretched the lead out to eight, 76-68 with 8:41 to play off a 5-0 burst and a trey from Clark and a drive from Grant Teichmann (Brentwood, Tenn.)
The buckets capped a string of 10 straight possessions for the Eagles that resulted in made buckets. The down side was that King was making its shots too, and stayed near step-for-step with the Eagles.
When Carson-Newman did go cold, it went four minutes without making a shot while King went on a 9-0 run to take an 83-80 lead with 4:30 to play.
The Eagles found themselves down four with 1:05 to play after a Je'Don Young 10-foot jumper from the right side of the lane.
The Eagles called for time with 52 seconds remaining to draw up a play. It wound up in a give-and-go for Clark and Bates. Bates did the giving and Clark did the going as the former knifed down the right side of the lane and looped in a left-handed shot to pull C-N within two.
The Eagles got the stop they needed on the other end. Mack Owens missed a baseline jumper and Shaun Jones (Lawrenceville, Ga.) ripped down his sixth rebound before getting the ball into the forecourt to Clark.
Clark drew a triple team, leaving Bates wide open at the top of the key to provide the heroics. The junior calmly nailed the three-ball with 2.2 seconds left. A last second heave from Jordan Floyd was off the mark for King and the Eagles improved to 4-0 for a second consecutive year.
"I have to give credit to our guys," Benson said. "Our performance all-in-all was not what we wanted. King threw big-time punches offensively. Our guys held on just long enough to squeak out the win. This performance wasn't what we hoped, but there's still something about a team that can play poorly and get a win."
The win for Carson-Newman snapped a seven-game losing streak to the Tornado following a six-year hiatus in the more than half-century old series.
While Bates provided the last-second heroics, Clark keyed the Eagles in the win. After sitting out much of the first half in foul trouble, Clark turned in a second stanza for the ages.
The Murfreesboro, Tenn.-native dropped 26 after halftime to finish with 28 for the game. Clark was 9-for-12 from the field, a flawless 4-for-4 from deep and a perfect 6-for-6 from the line. He also doled out six assists and pilfered three steals. Carson-Newman improved to 14-1 all-time when Clark hands out at least five assists.
"He wanted this game badly, and I could tell he wasn't please with where we were at the half," Benson said. "There was no surrender in him. Those first three possessions to start the second half, he obliterated everything. He was a leader, a shot maker and an energizer. We're not even a position for Mason to make a shot without him."
He was one of four Eagles to finish in double-digits. Teichmann added 15 while Jones and Bates chipped in 13 and 12, respectively. Jones was 6-for-6 from the floor, the second time in three games that the senior had attempted at least five shots without missing.
Josh Murray (Burlington, N.C.) became the first guy since 2013 for Carson-Newman and Cody Henegar to finish a game with at least five blocks.
King led for much of the contest thanks to rebounding. The Tornado outrebounded the Eagles 33-29; however, the biggest difference came after the halftime break. King had 11 offensive boards and 12 second chance points at halftime. After the break, King managed just three offensive boards and a pair of second chance points.
"They (King) came in here and wanted it more," head coach Chuck Benson said. "Our guys, to their credit, looked at themselves in the mirror, acknowledged what we told them was true, and showed more grit and determination in the second half."
The Eagles played to the Tornado's up-tempo style well. C-N outscored King in points off turnovers 18-12 thanks to eight live-ball Tornado turnovers. The Eagles also crushed King in transition with a 17-2 edge in fast break points.
King was led by Je'Don Young and a career high 26 points. He bypassed his previous benchmark of 17 from last season against Clayton State. Young went 7-for-11 from deep.
Mack Owen reigned in a double-double with 19 points and 13 boards. He had all 19 points by halftime; however, C-N did shut him out after the half.
The Tornado buried 11-of-18 threes in the second half and went 16-for-30 from deep for the day. C-N countered with a blistering 9-for-11 effort after halftime, and a 12-for-19 effort overall. Carson-Newman went 33-for-55 from the floor to shoot at least 60 percent from the field for a second time this season.
The Eagles take a week off for Thanksgiving before taking on Lee next Saturday at 4 p.m. Pregame coverage begins at 3:45 p.m. with the AEC Countdown to Tipoff on Mountain Country 106.3 (WFPT-FM, Sevierville) and online at cneagles.com/live.