VIDEO: Chuck Benson Interview
VIDEO: Mason Bates Interview
VIDEO: Grant Teichmann Interview
JEFFERSON CITY, Tenn. – Carson-Newman (5-0) limited Lee (4-1) and the nation's third most efficient scoring offense to a season-low 35.6 percent shooting effort and cruised down the stretch to a 79-56 triumph Saturday afternoon inside Holt Fieldhouse.
Carson-Newman snapped a two-game losing streak to Lee in what the first meeting for the teams since 1992-93.
The win keeps Carson-Newman perfect on the season. The Eagles start 5-0 for the first time since 2012-13 and just the second time since 1990.
"Our guys were motivated going into this game," head coach Chuck Benson said. "They knew that Coach Bubba Smith and his Lee team are really good. The final score does not indicate how talented they are. I give a lot of credit to our guys and their effort, preparation and determination, especially in the second half. They came out with a focused, defensive-minded agenda."
Carson-Newman closed the game on a 25-7 scoring run while limiting Lee to a 28.6 percent shooting effort after halftime.
The bizarre game saw Carson-Newman lead for all but 21 seconds. The Eagles led by nine in the opening half before Lee used a 12-2 run and a Cody Jones three that put the Flames up 32-21 with under a minute to go.
However, Charles Clark (Murfreesboro, Tenn.) drilled a three as time expired to put Carson-Newman up. The Eagles would not trail again.
Carson-Newman even went six minutes without a field goal, but never lost the lead as the Flames started 3-for-21 from the field in the second half. However, the Eagles picked up business in the final eight minutes. Carson-Newman closed the game on a 25-7 run to win it running away.
"Lee was missing some shots, and we were doing a great job getting defensive boards and turning them into transition baskets," Benson said. "The credit goes to our guys. They got stops. Then they took those stops and turned them into points."
The Eagles had a 54-47 lead with eight minutes to play before locking things down for the win.
Grant Teichmann (Brentwood, Tenn.) hit a driving layup, then Mason Bates (Cookeville, Tenn.) buried a three from the left corner to give Carson-Newman its first 20-point lead of the night. The Eagles were up 72-52 with 2:05 to play.
Charles Clark led Carson-Newman with 18 points. He has led Carson-Newman in scoring in every game this season. He also dished out five assists and grabbed four boards. Carson-Newman improved to 17-1 all-time when Clark dishes out at least five assists. Clark was not his normally efficient self, shooting 5-of-15 from the field and 3-of-9 from three.
"That's the magic number," Benson said. "The passing is the key. Lee did a great job getting multiple bodies in front of him. Charles can handle a physical game. One thing that he did today is that he kept his poise. He stayed even-keeled. He showed his maturity and realized that it wasn't his night in terms of efficiency and did some things that helped us win that were beyond putting the ball in the basket."
Bates and Teichmann rounded out the Eagles double-digit scorers. Bates collected his first career double-double with 15 points and 10 boards. Bates went 4-for-5 from the floor.
"Mason is not typically a guy that loses his poise. He picked up a tech in the first half," Benson said. "He let a physical game get to him a little bit. We had a discussion about how he needed to redeem himself. I'd like to think that he performed the way he did in the second half because he wanted to take my mind off the technical and instead put it on his first career double-double."
Meanwhile, Teichmann lit it up with 16 points to match his season high. The junior was 6-of-7 from the field and 2-of-3 from distance.
Carson-Newman, the country's second most efficient offense made it 5-for-5 games this season shooting at least 50 percent from the field. The Eagles drilled 27-of-52 shots to finish with a 52.9 percent clip.
The Eagles played up-tempo for the game, outscoring the Flames on the break 11-4.
Lee was led by Colton Blevins and his 11 points. Parker Suedekum had 10 for the Flames.
Carson-Newman's zone forced the Flames into a woeful 5-for-30 effort from beyond the arc, including a 1-for-13 effort from deep in the second half.
The Eagles return to action Sunday at 3 p.m. against Columbus State inside Holt Fieldhouse. Pregame coverage begins at 2:45 with the AEC Tailgate Show on Mountain Country 106.3 (WPFT-FM, Seveirville) and online at cneagles.com/live.