JEFFERSON CITY, Tenn. – Twentieth-ranked Carson-Newman (7-0, 1-0) reached its first perfect start through seven games since 1971 after a strong 92-64 win over Mars Hill (1-5, 0-1) on Wednesday night at Holt Fieldhouse.
The victory was also the third-straight that included a final margin of at least 28 points.
"Everybody played and added value," head coach Chuck Benson said of his team. "It was sort of hard there at the 12-minute media, you know, we sort of started being a bit more judicious with handing out minutes. I think they had 37 points at the 12-minute mark.
"Our guys had some personal goals which we didn't meet defensively in terms of points allowed, but it was hard to sort of keep the pressure going and keep it in tact. There's game slippage and guys start losing some focus with the point differential, but overall, I was very pleased with our guys' effort."
VIDEO: Chuck Benson Interview
Josh Murray, Charles Clark and Mason Bates combined for 47 of the Eagles points in the conference opener. They were the only three to find their way into double-digit territory for head coach Chuck Benson's crew.
Murray notched his first career double-double in the outing with 16 points and 11 rebounds.
"I just wanted to come out and control my controlables and play by the standards we've been talking about," the senior forward said. "I was just trying to focus on what we do and what I could do for the team."
The Lions started out hot with three-point shots in the first half, netting six of 10 from beyond the arc. Inside, they struggled with a 33-percent shooting clip that the Eagles were able to capitalize off of.
Mars Hill held a one-point lead at the 17:44 mark of the first half after a three-pointer from Jalen Williams, but that was the only lead the Lions could muster on the evening. The lead lasted for 20 ticks before a Murray layup would put the Eagles back in the driver's seat. The Eagles held the lead for 37:29 in the match with just one tie throughout.
Murray and Bates had 11 and 10 points respectively by the break. Clark's 9 points gave the trio 30 points with C-N leading the charge 45-25.
VIDEO: Josh Murray Interview
After a Jalen Williams layup to start the second half scoring, Benson's bunch went on a 15-0 run that ignited off of back-to-back threes from Bates and Clark. While the Lions made attempts to chip away at the C-N lead, the Eagles were too much for Mars Hill to overcome as Carson-Newman never gave up the lead or allowed the game to be tied.
Clark's outing of 15 points marked the seventh-straight game this season in which the guard has scored at least 12 points. He shot .500 from the field and with the long ball and was perfect in two trips to the foul line. The guard also tallied six defensive boards, three assists and two steals.
"We're more complete. I think we're more versatile. I think we've got, obviously, more weapons, and the great thing about it is, and it's a real testament to Charles, we won," Benson mentioned. "Everybody on this team won and everybody on this team is a part of it, and it's never been about Charles.
"The guy is as humble and as level as a star can be. The guy is a big-time college basketball player, but he's more interested in the outcome as opposed to his individual accolade."
Bates was 5-for-6 from three-point range, the long ball being his only shot attempt from the field on the night. He had two rebounds, eight assists with two steals.
VIDEO: Mason Bates Interview
Three Lions also tallied double-digit scoring marks in the match, combining for 33. Brandon Watkins and Matthew Powell both had 10 points while Charles Moore had 13 off the bench.
The Eagles led the way in assists with 25 compared to 11 from the Lions. They also held the advantage in rebounds, 36-26.
The Eagles take to the road with a visit to Newberry on Saturday. Tipoff is slated for 4 p.m. at Eleazer Arena. Pregame coverage begins at 3:45 with the AEC Countdown to Tipoff on Mountain Country 106.3 (WPFT-FM, Sevierville) and online at cneagles.com/live.