VIDEO: Chuck Benson Interview
VIDEO: Shaun Jones Interview
VIDEO: Cameron Holmes Interview
JEFFERSON CITY, Tenn. – Carson-Newman (11-2) got a combined 44 points from Charles Clark (Murfreesboro, Tenn.) and Cameron Holmes (Fort Mill, S.C.) and stiff-armed a game Limestone (6-7) club to an 84-72 triumph over the Saints Tuesday evening inside Holt Fieldhouse.
The victory closes out 2017 for the Eagles with a 14th consecutive home victory for C-N. The Eagles only shot 44.3 percent from the field, their worst shooting effort on the streak. Carson-Newman's 11-2 start is its best mark through 13 games since transitioning to Division II in 1992.
Clark went off for 24, including 18 in the first half, en route to his 51st career 20-point effort. Holmes reset his career high with 20 points. The duo combined to go 9-of-18 from deep. Clark connected on 5-of-10 threes, while Holmes netted 4-of-8.
"He made shots at a high rate," head coach Chuck Benson said of Holmes' career night. "I thought also, I had confidence in him to force (Limestone star Kenny) Hairston into difficult shots. That doesn't show up as much on the stat sheet, but I was happy that he stepped up tonight. He was the guy that gave us some extra push when Malik and Grant weren't hitting."
However, Carson-Newman got to the free throw line 22 times, knocking down 17 of them, to get the win inspite of Limestone having a more efficient offensive night – the Saints knocked down 46.8 percent of their shots and 44 percent of their threes.
"They surprised me by going to the zone nso early in the first half and then staying with it for the rest of the game," head coach Chuck Benson said. "That made our north-south attack difficult to get into. However, we were still deliberate getting the ball into the paint. That allowed us to get to the line."
Limestone's use of a 2-3 zone resulted Carson-Newman shooting a season high 35 threes. The Eagles knocked down 13 of them, the second most C-N has hit all year.
While Clark and Holmes knocked down theirs, Malik Abraham (Snellville, Ga.) and Grant Teichmann (Brentwood, Tenn.) struggled. The duo, who came into the night averaging 44 percent from distance, was 2-for-14 from three-point range.
"Limestone gave us good looks with their zone, and gave us a taste of our own medicine," Benson said. "It wasn't like we took bad shots, we just didn't make them. We made enough. The percentages weren't as high as I would have preferred, but we did enough to get the W."
Carson-Newman built a 12-point halftime lead on the heels of a 14-4 scoring run in the first half. Threes from Holmes and Teichmann, plus a baby hook from the middle of the paint from Josh Murray (Burlington, N.C.) stretched the Eagles' lead to 13 with 8:09 to play in the first half.
Carson-Newman kept the Saints at arm's length the remainder of the half before Clark buried a trey as the buzzer sounded to send C-N into the locker room up by 12.
The Eagles' utilized a 12-3 run to open the second half to balloon the lead to as large as 21 following a Murray slam.
Limestone never quit and used an 8-0 flurry to get the deficit back down to 12, but could never trim the deficit to single digits the rest of the way.
The loss gives Carson-Newman back-to-back wins over Limestone for the first time in series history.
The Saints were the epitome of a two-man show. Kenny Hairston and TJ Sheppard combined for 51 points, the most that a duo has scored against Carson-Newman this season.
Hairston went for 25 points on 7-for-12 shooting from three-point land. Sheppard had 26 and was 11-of-19 from the floor and 4-of-6 from beyond the arc.
"Those are two good players," Benson said. "We knew it would be a challenge with those two. We didn't think we'd be able to stop them. But nobody else got going. We played the scout as we designed it. I wasn't happy with our execution, but we did enough with it to get the win."
However, the rest of the Saints couldn't buy a bucket. No other Limestone player had more than five points. While Hairston and Sheppard combined to go 20-for-34 from the field, the rest of the team was 9-of-28 (32.1 percent) and 0-for-7 from three-point range.
Shaun Jones (Lawrenceville, Ga.) added in his 14th career double-double for C-N with 11 points and 11 boards. Murray was the Eagles' fourth player in double figures with 12 points.
Carson-Newman breaks for two weeks for the Christmas holiday before returning to action Jan. 2 at Johnson C. Smith at 6 p.m. Pregame coverage from Brayboy Gym starts at 5:45 on the Eagle Sports Network on Mountain Country 106.3 (WPFT-FM, Seveirville) and online at cneagles.com/live with the AEC Countdown to Tipoff.