Eagles withstand Cavalier comeback, 90-83

VIDEO: Chuck Benson Interview

VIDEO: Highlights

VIDEO: Grant Teichmann Interview

VIDEO: Mason Bates Interview 

JEFFERSON CITY, Tenn. – Carson-Newman (8-4) stayed perfect in non-conference action by withstanding a second half surge from UVA-Wise (5-6) to collect a 90-83 triumph over the Highland Cavaliers Wednesday night at Holt Fieldhouse.

The Eagles stay unblemished all-time against the Cavs.  C-N leads the all-time series 11-0 after the win.  C-N shot 54 percent from the field, while limiting UVA-Wise to 39 percent shooting.

Carson-Newman bolted out to a 16-point first-half lead thanks to a 21-3 spurt over a four-minute stretch at the mid-point of the stanza.  The Eagles led for double figures for much of the game before the Cavs used 10-3, 6-0 and 11-3 runs to cut the deficit down to two late before the Eagles rattled off a 9-0 in the final three minutes to pick up the win in crunch time. 

"I thought we were in a pretty good spot down the stretch," head coach Chuck Benson said. "However, credit them, because we couldn't keep them off of the line, we couldn't keep them out of the paint.  They made some tough shots and through all that, we weren't making shots.  Thankfully, our kids stayed resilience and finally pulled it out late with our own counter punch points."

The Eagles trailed by four four minutes into the second half before rattling off their 21-3 run while the Cavs started 3-for-15 from the floor.  Malik Abraham (Snellville, Ga.) drilled a three and Mason Bates (Cookeville, Tenn.) hit a driving layup to give the Eagles the lead for good at 9-8 with 15:02 left in the first half. 

Two minutes later, the Eagles had a double-digit lead after a Grant Teichmann (Brentwood, Tenn.) triple and a Parker Role' (Atlanta, Ga.) turnaround jumper. 

The lead peaked at 16 with 8:28 left, 29-13, after Brendon Coleman (Johnson City, Tenn.) got open for a layup on an in-bounds play. 

The teams battled back and forth before the Cavs utilized a 10-3 surge to cut the deficit to nine heading into the halftime locker room. Michal Seals and Eric Okenchi sparked the run with a three and and-one hook shot, respectively.

Carson-Newman was able to stretch the advantage back to 16 with 11:50 to play in the second half off a Reece Anderson (Douglasville, Ga.) fast break bucket before the Cavs rallied again.  Six straight points from Seals got the Eagles' lead down to six, 72-66 with 6:22 to play.  Then, the Cavs cut it to two, 73-71 with 4:09 left after a Kaeleb Carter three and a pair of free throws from Okenchi.  However, Carson-Newman closed with a flurry. 

The Eagles scored nine straight to push the lead back to 11 with 70 seconds left after four Teichmann free throws, a Bates up-and-under move, a jumper from Anderson in the lane and an Andre hook shot. 

Bates paved the way for the Eagles with his fifth career double-double.  He had 15 points and 10 rebounds, including 11 points and seven boards after halftime.

"Mason did a really nice job this week in a practice setting and in the locker room to have a good time with this experience and this opportunity while taking it seriously," Benson said. "He brought a light-heartedness to this that allowed us to bring a lot of joy to the floor tonight."

Bates was 4-of-9 from the floor and also handed out five assists.  He is the first player to lead Carson-Newman in four stat categories (rebounds, assists, blocks and steals) in a single game this season.

Meanwhile Teichmann crested 1,000 points for his collegiate career.  He had 471 at Freed-Hardemann and now has 543 in his Carson-Newman career after posting an efficient 23-point night. 

"It's just a testament to being consistent," Teichmann said. "I was fortunate to get playing time as a freshman and then being able to be a solid player for four years."   

Teichmann picked up his seventh career 20-point effort on 6-of-8 shooting.  He was 3-for-4 from long range and reset his career bests for both free throws made and attempted with an 8-for-10 effort from the line.  Teichmann also dished out five assists for the fourth time this season and the 15th time in his C-N career. 

"We don't win this game without him and without his leadership," Benson said. "He does what he does. Grant takes this stuff so seriously.  He's the kind of kid you love to coach.  He thinks like a coach and were just so happy for him.  He spends a lot of time in preparation, for him to do what he did, it's payoff for him."

Chris Clayton (Marion, N.C.) and Cam Andre (Kissimmee, Fla.) rounded out the Eagles other double-digit scorers.  They had 12 and 11, respectively. 

"I haven't really questioned our guy's effort," Benson said. "It was our home court, guys were excited to play and I thought the energy was right tonight."

C-N knocked down 59 percent of its shots in the first half before cooling a smidge and shooting 48 percent after halftime.  The Eagles struggled from long-range, with a 7-of-23 effort (30.4 percent) from deep.  C-N was 22-for-31 (70.97 percent) from inside the three-point arc on the night. 

Meanwhile, the Eagles flummoxed UVA-Wise top two scorers.  Michal Seals scored a season-high 28 points, but needed 27 shots to get there.  He was 8-for-27 from the floor and 4-for-16 from long range.  He did stuff the stat sheet with nine assists, six boards, five turnovers and two steals. 

Briggs Parris, the country's top three-point shooter entering the contest was limited to a season-low three made threes on seven attempts.  He finished with 11 points, four below his season average. 

"I'm pleased with what we did against Seals and Parris," Benson said. "Our guys delivered on the report and made life miserable for their top two guys.  On the other hand, you have to give credit to them, because they were so ultra-aggressive about getting to the rim.  It's crazy to think there were 47 fouls called in a game featuring a zone."

Okenchi and Chance Sheffey added in 14 points and 13 points, respectively for the Cavs. 

UVA-Wise was 21-for-24 from the charity stripe.  Carson-Newman made 25-of-34 free throws. 

C-N returns to action Saturday against the Catawba College Catawba Indians.  Tipoff is set for 4 p.m.  Pregame coverage begins at 3:45 with the AEC Countdown to Tipoff on Mountain Country 106.3 (WPFT-FM, Sevierville) and online at cneagles.com/live.