VIDEO: Chuck Benson Interview
VIDEO: Charles Clark Interview
VIDEO: Malik Abraham Interview
JEFFERSON CITY, Tenn. - Charles Clark (Murfreesboro, Tenn.) erupted for a season-high 37 points and Carson-Newman (9-1, 3-1 South Atlantic Conference) was lethal from long range to shoot past Coker (4-6, 1-1 SAC) 109-86 Saturday afternoon at Holt Fieldhouse.
Carson-Newman crested the century mark for the first time this season and canned a season-high 14 threes on 27 attempts en route to the 23-point win over the Cobras, the Eagle's sixth straight in the series. Carson-Newman's old season high for threes was short-lived. C-N knocked down 13 Wednesday night at Anderson.
Clark was the primary marksman. The senior matched a career high (that he set against Coker last year) by knocking down seven triples on nine attempts. The Murfreesboro, Tenn.-native was mind-numbingly efficient. He was 12-of-16 from the floor and 6-of-6 from the stripe.
"I don't know how he does it, but he does it," head coach Chuck Benson said. "It's one thing to score 37 points. It's another thing to do it in the incredibly efficient manner that he does it. Just the shot making ability he possesses is so uncanny. I watch him, and am just in awe."
The 37-point effort is the 10th 30-point game of his career and the third highest overall. He reset the SAC and Carson-Newman school records with 54 against Coker last year and dropped 39 on Mars Hill two years ago.
Clark also grabbed 10 rebounds for his 11th career double-double and swiped four steals, one off his career high.
"I just took advantage of what they gave me today," Clark said. "We were in Holt. So we had the home court advantage in front of a great crowd. We played well and kept it simple. We didn't try to force things and we found the open man frequently."
Also, after turning the ball over 12 times last season against Coker, he only had two giveaways on the day.
However, it was far from Clark who powered C-N's blistering offensive attack. Five Eagles finished in double figures. Malik Abraham (Snellville, Ga.) dropped 19 on the Cobras. He connected on 4-of-9 triples.
Josh Murray (Burlington, N.C.) scored an efficient 16 on 5-of-6 shooting; he also had four blocks. Shaun Jones (Lawrenceville, Ga.) added 12 while Cam Holmes (Fort Mill, S.C.) tallied the first double-digit scoring effort of his sophomore campaign with 11, including going 3-for-4 from distance.
"They guarded us 94 feet. They picked us up full court every time they made a bucket," Benson said. "In theory, that's a tough strategy to handle. However, our veteran guards handled that. We got numbers out of those situations a lot. We were able to spread them out in the half court and cut them up north and south on the attack.
"Our perimeter players in particular really set a tone with what they did. Then you throw it in there to Josh. He was hyper effective. That one-two inside-out punch works well together."
Carson-Newman started slow, falling behind 11-4 in the first four minutes following a Larry Cooper tip drill jam and a Jake Barrett fast break bucket. C-N only made one of its first eight shot attempts.
"It was a frustrating start," Benson said. "They threw the first punch in that they made shots and capitalized while we missed layups. I don't know if it had felt that bad if we hadn't missed, literally, point blank layups. I did like that we stayed poised and didn't get frustrated. We thought we would eventually get into a groove, and that's what happened as the game went along."
Carson-Newman rattled off a 20-3 run to turn that seven-point deficit into a 13-point advantage. Clark hit a layup on the break to extend the lead to double digits for the first time, 37-26 with 7:17 to play in the first half before Abraham took advantage of a Grant Teichmann (Brentwood, Tenn.) steal for a slam on the break to stretch the advantage to 13.
Coker would use an 8-0 run headlined by threes from Barrett and Khalil Halls to get the Cobras back in striking range, but Clark buried a triple in the final 30 seconds to set the halftime margin at seven, 53-46.
Coker got as close as six in the second half before the Eagles put the game to bed with a 9-0 run over the course of 56 seconds around the nine-minute mark. A Jones scoop and score plus a Holmes three put C-N up 15 with 8:10 to play.
Carson-Newman's zone enticed Coker to take a season-high 39 threes and make a season-high 12 of them. However, the Cobras shot below their average from long-range, only connecting on 30.8 percent of them.
Donte Samuels led Coker with 17 points. Barrett followed with 16, while Halls and Demarco Jackson added 14 and 13, respectively.
The Eagles forced 15 steals on the day, the most since stripping Lees-McRae 15 times in 2013. That's three off the school record of 18 set against North Greenville in 2007. The Eagles also rejected eight shots, two off the school record against Tusculum in 2012.
Carson-Newman, who boasts the nation's most efficient offense, shot 54.4 percent from the field, while limiting Coker to a 40.8 percent clip.
Carson-Newman is back in action Wednesday night against No. 2 Queens in Charlotte at 8 p.m. Pregame coverage begins at 7:45 on the Eagle Sports Network on Mountain Country 106.3 (WPFT-FM, Sevierville) and online at cneagles.com/live.