No. 20 Eagles outlast powerful Pioneers

No. 20 Eagles outlast powerful Pioneers

VIDEO: Highlights

VIDEO: Chuck Benson Interview

GREENEVILLE, Tenn. –  Down by as many as 12 points, No. 20 Carson-Newman completed a second half comeback en route to a 91-86 win against conference rival Tusculum on Wednesday evening at Pioneer Arena.

The win gives C-N a five-game winning streak, its second of the season. It was also the third double-digit comeback of the season and the 27th since 2000.

The Eagles (14-2, 6-2 South Atlantic Conference) had four players land in double-digit scoring, including a double-double outing by Shaun Jones (Lawrenceville, Ga.), his second of the season and 15th in his career. He finished the evening with 27 points and 13 boards.

"I think early in the first half, I was just finding gaps in the middle of the floor and I was just able to get to the rim early," the senior said of his performance. "I think that allowed me to get going early in the game and I guess that just kind of continued throughout the game."

With his 19-point performance, Charles Clark (Murfreesboro, Tenn.) moves to third place on C-N's career scoring list, surpassing Steve Adams' mark of 2,034 points set from 1982-84. He now has 2,038 points in his career. He crossed the mark on a trip to the charity stripe late in the closing stanza. He was perfect in all 11 of his trips to the line.

Mason Bates (Cookeville, Tenn.) flirted with a triple-double, garnering 15 points with half a dozen assists and rebounds. Malik Abraham (Snellville, Ga.) added 14 points, 12 of them coming from beyond the arc.

VIDEO: Mason Bates Interview

Tusculum (4-11, 2-6 SAC) connected for 18 three-pointers on the night, the most allowed by an opponent this season. 11 of those came in a first half that was dominated by the Pioneers.

"(The Pioneers) play a gambling style defensively," head coach Chuck Benson said. "They can turn you over, they turned us over; they get tough and they take so many threes, it can overwhelm you. 26 of their first half shots were threes, and they shot the cover off of the ball. It forced us to have to make some game time adjustments that, thankfully, I think sort of slowed them down."

C-N jumped out to a quick 7-0 run, its largest lead of the first half, before the Pioneers answered with a run of their own, leading to a hot opening half for Tusculum.

At the 2:03 mark of the first, a three-pointer from Peyton Woods gave the Pioneers their largest lead of the night capping a 20-6 run. The Eagles answered that streak with an 8-2 flurry to close out the first half trailing by six, 41-35, marking the fourth time this season that Benson's team trailed at the break.

Despite the scoring margin leaning in Tusculum's favor, the Eagles led shooting with a 48.3 clip from the field compared to 42.4-percent from the Pioneers.

Jones was the only Eagle in double-digit territory through the first 20 minutes of play with 17 points. Woods and Zailan Peeler led with 15 and 11 respectively before the break.

VIDEO: Shaun Jones Interview

"Some of the shots Woods made in the first half weren't surprising to me because I had warned our guys that this is a guy that's an elite level shooter and has really no range if he gets hot," Benson said. "He's almost undefendable from range."

Tusculum opened the second half hitting five of its nine shots before the Eagles started clawing back.

At the 9:30 mark, a Bates layup tied the game at 61 all, the Eagles running with a 13-4 scoring streak.

A little later, Jones made a drive to the basket, picking up a foul along the way for the and-1 that allowed the Eagles to regain their lead, 69-67 with just under six minutes left in the game. C-N did not relinquish its lead for the remainder of the match, making the most of the fourth and final lead change.

Four Pioneers finished the night in double-digit scoring, led by a 19-point outing from Woods.

The Eagles continue their conference road trip with a visit to Wingate on Saturday. Tipoff is set for 4 p.m. at Cuddy Arena. Pregame coverage begins at 3:45 with the AEC Countdown to Tipoff on Mountain Country 106.3 (WPFT-FM, Sevierville) and online at

Cheer camp set for July
April 8, 2018 Cheer camp set for July