VIDEO: Chuck Benson interview
VIDEO: Grant Teichmann Interview
JEFFERSON CITY, Tenn. – Lenoir-Rhyne (8-1, 2-1 South Atlantic Conference) matched a season high with 14 made threes and used a late first-half run to collect a 78-62 win over Carson-Newman (5-3, 0-3 SAC) Wednesday night inside Holt Fieldhouse.
The Bears' victory snaps a three-game win streak for the Eagles. It marks Carson-Newman's third straight loss, the Eagles' first three-game losing streak since falling to Winona State, Hillsdale and Johnson C. Smith early during the 2016-17 campaign.
Even with the loss, the Eagles managed to correct some things that had plagued them the past three games. Carson-Newman was minus-20 on the offensive glass the last two contests, and minus-64 in second chance points over the last three games.
"You're not going to believe this, but we actually got better tonight," head coach Chuck Benson said. "I know what the challenges were that I asked my team to accomplish tonight and to see if they would follow through with them. They did an incredible job on the defensive glass. They did a great job of not fouling, which was outstanding. Where we still fell short was on the turnover side. I want to win every game, but right now, it's about doing the things right that add up to those wins."
Carson-Newman outrebounded L-R 30-29 and only gave up five second chance points. C-N also only committed six fouls.
On the flip side, C-N took away drives from two of the SAC's best in Corey Thomas and Djibril Diallo. However, the Bears knocked down a bevy of jump shots. Only 22 of the Bears 78 points came inside the painted area, the second lowest total for the Bears on the year.
"We did a good job defensively not letting them drive," Benson said. "Our spot discipline and one-on-one contain was very good. We wanted to entice them to shooting jumpers. Game pressure impacts everything, they were able to get into a happy, warm comfy place shooting the basketball."
Lenoir-Rhyne created separation late in the opening half. After Carson-Newman cut a five-point deficit down to one, 20-19, the Bears responded by outscoring the Eagles' 18-5 to close the stanza and take a 38-24 lead into the halftime locker room.
Turnovers sparked the Bear surge. The Eagles coughed it up on consecutive possessions while Diallo and RJ Gunn drilled threes to put L-R up 30-19 with 4:39 to go in the half.
"Initially its turnovers leading to easy buckets, and we're not responding," Teichmann said. "We'll take a punch and not throw another one back. We have to work toward the future to get better."
The Bears built a 35-point lead early in the second half thanks to a 23-3 run before C-N countered with a 15-0 spurt of its own to bring the margin back toward a better level of respectability.
Teichmann led Carson-Newman with 17 points. He was an effective 6-for-11 from the field and 3-for-6 from long range. Cam Andre (Kissimmee, Fla.) and Bates each added in 11. Both players went 5-for-8 from the floor.
RJ Gunn matched Teichmann for the game high for Lenoir-Rhyne with 17 points. He was 6-for-14 from the floor and 3-for-6 from distance. Thomas and Diallo had 16 and 14, respectively. Diallo knocked down 4-of-10 threes. Jonathan Jean added in a double-double with 12 points and 11 assists.
The Bears went 14-for-31 from long range and made 48.4 percent of their shots from the field on the night. Meanwhile, Carson-Newman countered at a 49 percent clip from the field and a 6-of-16 effort from three.
However, the Eagles made six and attempted 13 fewer shots than the Bears thanks to the 17 turnovers.
"We were passive because we were trying to take care of the basketball," Benson said. "It was all in an attempt to not turn the ball over. We've got a long way to go, but I come away from this with some good learning moments."
Carson-Newman will try to put a halt to its three-game skid Saturday against Fort Valley State. The first meeting between the programs will take place inside Holt Fieldhouse at 3 p.m. Saturday. The Eagle Sports Network hits the air at 2:45 p.m. with the AEC Countdown to Tipoff on Mountain Country 106.3 (WPFT-FM, Sevierville) and online at cneagles.com/live.