Bird goes ballistic, Clark propels No. 20 C-N to 81-66 OT win at Wingate

VIDEO: Chuck Benson Interview

VIDEO: Shaun Jones Interview

VIDEO: Charles Clark Interview

WINGATE, N.C. – Charles Clark (Murfreesboro, Tenn.) turned in one of the better performances in an overtime period in NCAA history as No. 20 Carson-Newman (15-2, 7-2 South Atlantic Conference) beat the breaks off Wingate (8-9, 5-4 SAC) in OT with an 81-66 triumph. 

Clark scored 13 of his game-high 31 points in the overtime session to power C-N to the 15-point win. 

The 15-point OT win is the largest margin of victory in a South Atlantic Conference game that went to overtime in the last eight years.  The largest margin of victory in an OT game in NCAA Division II history belongs to Pfeiffer, who beat Belmont Abbey 72-50 on Dec. 8, 1960 with an extra session. 

Clark's 13 points in overtime put him in the NCAA conversation for most points in an OT period.  John Green of  Barton holds that record when he scored 18 of  the Bulldogs' 19 points in OT in a win over St. Andrew's on Feb. 5, 2004. 

The senior's 30-point game is the 14th of his career and the fourth of this season.  He went 3-for-3 from the field, 1-for-1 from three and 6-for-6 from the line on the overtime period.  For the game, he was 9-for-17 from the floor, 3-for-7 from long range and 10-for-11 from the stripe. 

Clark also stuffed  the stat sheet with six boards, three assists and three steals. 

The win for the Eagles is their sixth consecutive this season.  It also snaps a five-game skid to the Bulldogs.   

"We'd had a dry stretch against Wingate, and that's testament to them and how strong their program is," head coach Chuck Benson said. "I challenged Charles, because he hasn't had the best games against Wingate. He doesn't make a big deal about it at the time, but it becomes like fuel for him.

"I don't use the phrase that a guy refused to let a team lose.  Believe me when I say, Charles Clark refused to let us lose today.  His performance in that overtime was one of the singular, great performances I've been a part of.  We don't win this game without him. Period."

The Eagles rallied from an eight-point second half deficit to force the overtime period before Clark took over. 

He made the first basket of the OT session on a knifing, coast-to-coast layup.  After Marco Haskins countered with a layup with 4:07 left in the overtime session.  It was all Eagles and all Clark. 

The senior knocked down a three from the right point before high low action got the ball to Mason Bates (Cookeville, Tenn.) for a bunny-hop bucket that set the Eagles up 75-65 with 3:16 left. 

"We knew our teams play, it would be a grind-it-out type game," Clark said. "Overtime, I just tried to pull it out.  I think the overtime we were very inspired.  Our strength coach Thomas Collins made sure we weren't tired.  We executed the scout to a tee come overtime,  and that's what really pulled it out."

Another Clark layup was followed by a pair of  free throws from the Murfreesboro, Tenn.-native to stretch the lead to nine with 1:54 left. Malik Abraham (Snellvillle, Ga.) iced the game with a three from the right wing to put C-N up double figures, 77-65 with 1:02 left. 

Clark rounded out the scoring with a quartet of free throws for the Eagles.  All told, Carson-Newman rattled off a 16-0 run, its biggest of the season, to cement the win.    

Carson-Newman went 5-for-6 from the field in the overtime period, knocked down both threes that it took and made all six of its free throws. 

Meanwhile, the Bulldogs only went 1-for-8 from the floor and 0-for-3 from long range. 

"I thought our experience showed in overtime," Benson said. "When you have Charles do what he did, Grant and Malik had big shots, our veteran status showed today.  This is such a tough place to win. Testament goes to our team, in particular our veterans."

Clark's night also moved him into third place all-time in scoring in the history of the South Atlantic Conference.  Clark now has 2,069 points for his career.  He bypasses Lincoln Memorial All-American Luquon Choice.

The game is the first in the career of Clark against Wingate that he shot at least 50 percent from the field on the Bulldogs.

Clark was far from the only Eagle who stepped up.  Shaun Jones (Lawrenceville, Ga.) produced his 16th career double-double with 18 points and 11 boards.  Malik Abraham (Snellville, Ga.) also tallied double-figures with 12 points, all from beyond the arc of 4-of-7 shooting. 

The Eagles shot at least 45 percent on the Bulldogs for the first time in six games.  The Eagles were 28-for-61 from the field and 9-for-19 from long range. 

"We knew Wingate would challenge us because they are such an elite defensive squad.  That's something Coach Brian Good has done a phenomenal job of establishing at Wingate through the years," Benson said. "We'd preached the last couple days that nothing would be easy for us.  We wanted to flip that script and make it uneasy on them.  Our guys took that to another level in  overtime."   

Carson-Newman's zone forced Wingate into taking a season-high 35 threes.  The Bulldogs knocked down 11 of them.  Wingate shot 33.8 percent from the field, the Eagles' second best field goal percentage allowed. 

Marco Haskins led Wingate with 19 points on 6-for-14 shooting.  Neico Robinson chipped in 16 points and Zeriq Lolar produced 15 on 5-for-19 shooting. 

The Eagles outrebounded the Bulldogs 47-39.  C-N also outscored Wingate 36-20 in the paint. 

Carson-Newman is back in action Wednesday in what will be a top 20 showdown against a Lincoln Memorial team that's in the top five.  Tipoff with the Railsplitters is set for 8 p.m.  Pregame coverage starts at 7:45 with the AEC Countdown to Tipoff on Mountain Country 106.3 (WPFT-FM, Sevierville) and online at 


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