VIDEO: Chuck Benson Interview
VIDEO: Charles Clark Interview
VIDEO: Shaun Jones Interview
VIDEO: Josh Murray Interview
VIDEO: Taylor Hawkins Interview
JEFFERSON CITY, Tenn. – Sixth-seeded Carson-Newman (23-6) cranked through a monster second half run aided by some lockdown defense to tote the Eagles to a 102-82 triumph over Newberry (15-14) Wednesday evening in Holt Fieldhouse in the quarterfinals of the South Atlantic Conference Tournament Championship.
Carson-Newman blistered the Wolves with a 25-4 run in the second half to cement the win. The Eagles cranked out the first 14 points of that run unanswered in a span of 2:14 to put the game away.
Newberry had fought back from a 17-point first half deficit thanks to 9-0, 8-0 and 6-0 runs at various points to tie the game early in the second half at 50-50. The margin hovered around two possessions until Jamaal Satisfield converted an and-one tip in with 14:28 to play to bring the Wolves within two, 61-59 with 14:15 to play.
"You knew Newberry was never going to stop," head coach Chuck Benson said. "Dave Davis has created a culture there that they're never going to quit. Our guys knew that it would take a 40-minute effort because of that. Thankfully when it was tight, Malik went off, then through all of that, we were getting stops. It was a perfect combination of scoring and defensive effort."
Then, the Eagles exploded. Malik Abraham (Snellville, Ga.) scored the first nine points of the run all by himself with a trio of threes. Within 64 seconds, the Eagles were ahead by 11, 70-59.
Carson-Newman kept the foot to the accelerator with another three by Grant Teichmann (Brentwood, Tenn.) and a Shaun Jones tip-in. Those buckets stretched the lead to 16, 75-59 with 12:07 to play in the second half. Carson-Newman stretched the lead out to 23 with 8:39 to play, 86-63 after four straight points from Parker Role' (Atlanta, Ga.).
While the Eagles knocked down 8-of-10 shots on the run, Newberry went ice cold, missing 10 straight field goals and going four minutes without scoring.
After the Eagles went up by 20, that's as close as the Wolves would get the rest of the way.
Carson-Newman's seniors closes out Holt Fieldhouse in a fitting way. Charles Clark (Murfreesboro, Tenn.) collected his 59th career 20-point effort with a highly efficient and effective performance. Clark was 11-for-18 from the floor and 5-of-8 from three. He also grabbed five boards and dished out seven assists.
"I don't know if people understand what they've seen here for the last four years," Benson said. "I said from the start of this year, that I was going to enjoy every day with that dude. Coaching Charles Clark in this building, I've watched some of the greatest singular performances that this gym has ever seen. He's a special player, and we've been very lucky to have him. We want to continue to play games and win, but man will we ever miss him."
With the 29-point performance Clark moved ever closer to Wingate's Sean Barnette and the SAC's all-time career scoring record. Barnette has 2,324 points in his career. Clark has 2,318. He needs six to tie and seven to break the record.
Aside from Clark's efficiency, Shaun Jones (Lawrenceville, Ga.) extended his Carson-Newman career double-doubles record to 19. He powered up for 18 points and 15 rebounds, his third career game as an Eagle with 15 or more boards. He also added in a career-high four blocks and doled out four assists.
Teichmann played through a fever with a stat-sheet stuffer night. He had 10 points, three boards and eight assists.
Abraham and Role' represented the Eagles' other double-digit scorers. Abraham finished with an efficient 14. He was 5-for-8 from the floor and 4-for-6 from beyond the arc. Role' nearly grabbed his first career double-double, finishing with a season-high matching 11 points and eight rebounds.
Carson-Newman clicked offensively, shooting 58.6 percent from the field (41-of-70) and 56.5 percent from beyond the arc (13-of-23). The Eagles were nightmarish to contend with in the second half, shooting on the plus side of 62 percent both from the field and from three.
Meanwhile, the Eagles put the clamps down on the other end of the floor. Newberry shot 34.6 percent from the field and 12-of-39, 30.8 percent from three. It's the second best effort the Eagles have put together in terms of defensive efficiency this year. C-N limited UVA-Wise to 30.8 percent shooting back in November.
Carson-Newman especially harassed the league's third-leading scorer Rob Valentine into an off night. Valentine led Newberry with 14 points, five below his average, but went 4-for-12 from the field and 1-for-6 from beyond the arc.
Marshall Lange, Quaman Burton and Jabrie Bullard represented Newberry's other double-digit scorers, adding in 12, 10 and 10 respectively.
Carson-Newman shared the ball exceptionally well with 29 assists, the 10th game this season the Eagles have handed out 20 or more helpers.
The Eagles improved to 6-0 all-time in SAC tournament play against Newberry with the win.
Carson-Newman takes on second-seeded Queens on semifinal Saturday in Greenville, S.C. in the next round of the SAC tournament. Tipoff from Furman's Timmons Arena is slated for 7:30 p.m. Pregame coverage on the Eagle Sports Network starts at 7:14 with the AEC Countdown Top Tipoff on Mountain Country 106.3 (WPFT-FM, Sevierville) and online at cneagles.com/live.