VIDEO: Chuck Benson Interview
VIDEO: Cam Holmes Interview
VIDEO: Malik Abraham Interview
VIDEO: Mason Bates Interview
SALISBURY, N.C. – Carson-Newman (21-5, 13-5 South Atlantic Conference) kept persistent pressure on the SAC's leading scorer and used a torrid shooting effort to snap a three-game losing skid to Catawba College's Catawba Indians (10-14, 6-12) with a 104-89 triumph inside Goodman Gym Saturday evening.
The victory, coupled with Wingate's 76-71 loss to Anderson guarantees Carson-Newman the three seed for the South Atlantic Conference tournament starting Feb. 28.
The Eagles put together their top offensive effort on the road this season, shooting 61.8 percent from the field while scoring 104 points. Meanwhile, the Eagles' defense, headlined by harassment from Malik Abraham (Snellville, Ga.) and Cam Holmes (Fort Mill, S.C.), limited the league's leading scorer Jerrin Morrison to half his average on 2-for-13 shooting. Morrison finished with 10 points. He didn't make a shot in the second half.
"When we talked about strategizing for this game, we felt like it could be the kind of day where Jerrin Morrison could go off for 30 or 40 with it being his senior day," head coach Chuck Benson said. "We let Cam and Malik split time and tried to limit touches and impact his efficiency. They did that. And they did that against a guy who was leading our league in scoring. Credit to those two guys for doing an outstanding job."
Carson-Newman utilized a a 13-1 run spanning the halftime break and a 14-3 run later in the second half to polish off the win.
The Eagles led 49-41 before cranking open the second half with a 10-1 run. Charles Clark (Murfreesboro, Tenn.) got the period started with back-to-back layups. A Clark three, followed by an and-one from Josh Murray (Burlington, N.C.) put C-N up 59-42 not even two minutes into the second half.
Catawba had trimmed the deficit down to nine with 14:09, but that's when the Eagles' defense really clicked into gear. Carson-Newman held Catawba without a field goal over the next three minutes and only allowed one made shot from the field over the next Tecieight minutes of game action as C-N built a 22-point lead off a 14-3 run.
An and-one from Grant Teichmann (Brentwood, Tenn.) pushed the lead out to 19, 79-60 with 9:43 to play before Abraham drilled a triple to push it out to 22.
While Carson-Newman's defense was stingy, the Eagles' offense clicked at a gear that it hadn't on the road this season. Carson-Newman shot 61.8 percent from the field (34-for-55) and knocked down 10-of-10 threes. The 61.8 shooting effort is Carson-Newman's most efficient night shooting on the road this year.
"We had a practice yesterday where everyone was ready to kill everyone and I thought we were going to get beat by 40," Benson said. "Grant Teichmann called me and said, 'Don't worry, we got all the bad stuff out. The good stuff will be on Saturday' Fortunately, the positive-minded person that Grant is, he was right."
Charles Clark (Murfreesboro, Tenn.) followed up a 30-point night Wednesday with a 28-point effort against the Indians. He scored 18 in the second half. Clark was 9-for-14 from the field and a perfect 7-for-7 from the charity stripe.
He was aided by the third career double-double from Mason Bates (Cookeville, Tenn.). Bates scored 18, the second most in a game of his redshirt-junior season. He tallied 13 rebounds, a new career high.
"Mason has been in this game and never won here," Benson said. "I know for Mason and Charles both, this was a big deal to get a win in this gym. It's ironic because Morrison and Charles came into this league together and Morrison beat Charles for the conference's freshman of the year. I know Charles too well to know that these kind of opportunities fuel him. He wanted to make a mark, and both he and Mason did that for sure today."
Shaun Jones (Lawrenceville, Ga.) also added in 18 points on 7-of-10 shooting. Teichmann rounded out the Eagles' quartet of double-digit scorers with 11. He also had six rebounds.
While the Eagles locked down Jerrin Morrison to a 10-point night. Malik Constantine stepped up for the Indians. Constantine scored a career-high 30 points on 11-of-18 shooting. He went 4-for-7 from three. Jordan Barber rounded out the Indians double-figure scorers. He had 11, but was 4-of-12 from the floor and 3-of-9 from beyond the arc.
Catawba knocked down a season-high 12 threes, but did so on a season-high 37 attempts against the Eagles' variety of zone packages.
Catawba was 6-for-28 from beyond the arc before knocking down 6-of-9 in the game's final four minutes once game pressure had been removed.
Carson-Newman dominated the glass against one of the league's best offensive rebounding teams. The Eagles were +16, outrebounding the Indians 44-28.
The Eagles continue their road trip Wednesday with a trip to Harrogate, Tenn. and a matchup with the number one team in the country. The Eagles tip with Lincoln Memorial at 8 p.m. Coverage on the Eagle Sports Network starts at 7:45 with the AEC Countdown to Tipoff on Mountain Country 106.3 (WPFT-FM, Sevierville) and online at cneagles.com/live.