VIDEO: Chuck Benson Interview
VIDEO: Grant Teichmann Interview
CHARLOTTE, N.C. – No. 2/5 Queen (9-1, 4-0 South Atlantic Conference) built a 21-point second-half lead before fending off a furious Carson-Newman (9-2, 3-2 SAC) rally to tally a 92-81 win over the Eagles Wednesday night at Curry Arena.
The win is a fifth consecutive for the Royals over the Eagles.
"Our guys learned a valuable lesson tonight," head coach Chuck Benson said. "When you're playing elite competition, you have to be locked in for 40 minutes. I felt like we started the game really locked in. However, by the five-minute mark, we had relaxed. That inspired them the remainder of the first half. I thought we threw a really good first punch. But then we turned it over and stopped rebounding it. We lacked the poise for the remainder of the first half to control our controllables."
Carson-Newman jumped out of the gates with a 10-2 run that saw the Eagles build a six-point lead in the game's first five minutes while the Royals missed six of their first seven shots.
However, after the first media timeout, the Royals caught fire. Queens knocked down eight straight shots and used 14-2 and 16-5 runs to push the lead to 17 by halftime.
"We were too immature in the way we handled this scenario tonight," Benson said. "I'm really disappointed in that."
The lead ballooned to 21 in the second half, 59-38 at the 17:00 mark after a Lewis Diankulu reverse layup.
Carson-Newman would at long last respond with a 19-4 run over the next five minutes to cut the deficit down to five, 63-58 with 12:02 to play. Mason Bates (Cookeville, Tenn.) converted an and-one opportunity and Malik Abraham (Snellville, Ga.) floated an alley-oop to Josh Murray (Burlington, N.C.) for a thunderous dunk on a fast break to trim the deficit.
"We encouraged the guys to lock in and take care of the things that we can take care of," Benson said. "They did a better job of doing that in the second half. Queens is legit and good. I don't want to take anything away from them. However, I do believe that we could have had a much better performance if we had controlled the things that we had control over. That's what's frustrating to me, because in nine of our first 10 games, we had control over those things."
However, Queens countered again. Three minutes later, the Royals were up 16 on the heels of an 11-0 run headlined by a fast break slam by Todd Withers on a lob from Jalin Alexander.
"We had too much game slippage tonight, especially in the first half," Benson said. "We dug ourselves a hole that was deep enough against a team like Queens, that's as good as it is, that its really difficult to get out of that size hole."
The 81 points were the most any team had scored on the Royals this season and Carson-Newman's 48.4 percent clip from the field (well off the Eagles' nation-leading 54 percent clip coming in) was the most efficient night of offense a team had had this year against the Royals. Carson-Newman also hit more threes at a more efficient rate (8-of-22, 36.4 percent) than any team Queens had faced this year.
At the same time, the Royals did things to Carson-Newman that no other team had done to C-N.
Queens became the first team in more than a calendar year to shoot better than 50 percent from the field on the Eagles. Queens knocked down 55.1 percent of its shots (38-oof-69) and was highly efficient inside the paint.
Queens outscored the Eagles 52-44 in the paint, the first time Carson-Newman had been outscored inside all year.
The loss overshadowed another milestone for Charles Clark. The senior bypassed the 1,900-point threshold and moved into sixth place on both Carson-Newman and the South Atlantic Conference's all-time scoring lists.
Clark bypassed Presbyterian's Chuck Rayford on the league's scoring list with his 22-point, five-rebound, five-assist night. He now has 1,921 career points. His next basket will move him into fifth on both the SAC and C-N scoring lists and past C-N legend Ish Sanders.
The loss snapped a 13-game win streak for the Eagles when Clark handed out at least five assists. The Eagles hadn't lost a game when he dolled out five helpers since a 19-point loss at Lenoir-Rhyne in Clark's sophomore season. Carson-Newman is 17-2 all-time when Clark drops at least five dimes.
The Royals also had four players finish in double figures. Lewis Diankulu matched a career high with 20 points. He also had seven boards.
Todd Withers became the first player to post a double-double against C-N this season with 18 points and 12 boards. Mike Davis and Jalin Alexander added 16 and 15, respectively. They both handed out seven assists.
Carson-Newman returns to Holt Fieldhouse for a 4 p.m. tip with Lenoir-Rhyne on Saturday. Pregame coverage starts at 3:45 with the AEC Countdown to Tipoff on Mountain Country 106.3 (WPFT-FM, Sevierville) and online at cneagles.com/live.