VIDEO: Chuck Benson Interview
VIDEO: Grant Teichmann Interview
VIDEO: Nick Rogers Interview
JEFFERSON CITY, Tenn. – Carson-Newman (22-6, 14-6 South Atlantic Conference) withstood a late 11-2 Wingate (14-14, 11-9 SAC) push to collect a wire-to-wire 80-76 win over the Bulldogs Saturday evening at Holt Fieldhouse.
Carson-Newman sweeps the season series with Wingate for the first time since the 2014-15 campaign.
"I think our guys were really determined to win, " head coach Chuck Benson said. "Grant's headiness late was really critical. I knew Wingate would never quit. We could have pushed the door shut and didn't. As a result Wingate never stopped. We made some bad decisions late and didn't value the ball well. At the same time, credit to our guys for finishing off the regular season with a win and all is right in the world."
Wingate trailed by 12 with 3:42 before putting together a furious rally to make things interesting late. However, Charles Clark (Murfreesboro, Tenn.) buried 5-of-6 free throws in the final 10 seconds to cement the win.
Carson-Newman had already locked up the three-seed in the South Atlantic Conference tournament, but the win helps solidify the Eagles' resume for an at-large bid to the Southeast Regional if C-N can't win the league tournament.
Carson-Newman's trek through the league tournament begins Wednesday night against Newberry, who earns the six seed after beating Tusculum 91-81.
Teichmann reset his career high with 22 points. He also was a career-best 8-for-11 from the field and 4-of-7 from long range. The junior stuffed the stat sheet with eight boards and five assists as well.
Meanwhile, Rogers entered the game with a whopping 20 points and barely 30 minutes played for his brief career.
With Mason Bates (Cookeville, Tenn.) out with an injury, Rogers stepped up to provide the Eagles' with additional pop from the perimeter.
He reset pretty much every statistical career high he had coming into the game, scoring 14 points on 5-of-8 shooting and a 4-of-6 clip from three. Rogers also played 19 minutes and scooped up two assists.
"You know what the deal is," Benson said. "Mason out, Reece with limited minutes because of an injury. We needed someone to step up. Nick responded. Offensively, his night speaks for itself. I told him after the game in the locker room that we couldn't ask for more out of his offense, and his defense was ok. We put him in a horrible situation. We're asking a freshman to play significant minutes in a significant game and he had only played seven or eight games on the year. I'm thankful he responded the way he did."
Clark led the Eagles in scoring on his senior day, putting down a game-high 23. Clark was 7-of-14 from the floor but just 1-for-6 from long range. Clark's 23 points moved him within 35 of Wingate's Sean Barnette for the SAC's all-time scoring record for points in a career.
The Eagles shot 50.9 percent from the field on one of the better defensive teams in the South Atlantic Conference. Meanwhile, Carson-Newman limited Wingate to 37.9 percent shooting.
Carson-Newman head men's basketball coach Chuck Benson credited the Eagles' efforts on the glass for propelling them to a 15-point second half lead.
"It was our rebounding," Benson said. "We did a good job defending the ball and we didn't give them a lot of seconds, especially early. I thought we were able to own the day with that."
However, it was a lack of ball security that allowed Wingate to get back into the game. Carson-Newman turned it over 18 times, compared to just six for the Bulldogs. Wingate turned Carson-Newman's 18 turnovers into 21 points. The Bulldogs outscored the Eagles 21-2 in points off turnovers.
That was how Wingate got back into the game. The Eagles coughed it up three times in the final three minutes, leading to points each time for the Bulldogs.
The Bulldogs whittled a 12-point deficit with 3:15 to play down to seven with a 1:56 left following a Zeriq Lolar three. A quartet of free throws, two from Lolar and two more from Emarius Logan brought the Bulldogs within three with 53 seconds to play.
Teichmann countered with a layup to stretch the advantage back to five, 75-70, with 28 seconds left. Wingate would score the next four through off of two more Logan freebies, following by a Jeremy Williams layup after a Teichmann turnover with 14 seconds left.
The Bulldogs nearly generated another turnover the ensuing possession after the free throws. The Eagles got the ball in to Malik Abraham (Snellville, Ga.) who was trapped as soon as he got the ball. However, Kendrick Tucker committed a foul on Abraham, then was assessed a technical.
Clark knocked down 5-of-6 free throws in the final 10 seconds to ice the win.
Lolar led Wingate with 22 points. He was one of four Bulldogs in double figures. Logan added 16, he was a perfect 10-for-10 at the charity stripe. Marco Haskins and Devarious Christian rounded out the Bulldogs double-digit scorers with 13 and 10, respectively.
The Eagles open SAC tournament play Wednesday at 8 p.m. against sixth-seeded Newberry. Pregame coverage on the Eagle Sports Network begins at 7:45 with the AEC Countdown to Tipoff on Mountain Country 106.3 (WPFT-FM, Sevierville) and online at cneagles.com/live.