VIDEO: Chuck Benson Interview
HICKORY, N.C. – Lenoir-Rhyne (16-4, 9-3 South Atlantic Conference) overcame a 19-point first half deficit with good free-throw and three-point shooting to down Carson-Newman (11-10, 4-9 SAC) in overtime 100-91 Saturday at Shuford Gym.
The 19-point deficit is the largest lead that a Carson-Newman opponent has ever overcome since huck Benson took over as head coach in 2010.
The win gives Lenoir-Rhyne its first season sweep of Carson-Newman since the 2011-2012 season.
"We put together a solid performance in the first half and I thought we had a good bit of momentum," head coach Chuck Benson said. "I challenged our guys to put together a complete performance. Unfortunately, we're not yet at that point where we can do that.
"You have to give credit to L-R, they played well. However, in all honesty, we made some decisions down the stretch that hurt ourselves. We had too many mental break downs, too many broken assignments, too many guys trying to make plays that aren't playmakers. We didn't trust our process late, and it cost us."
The Bears knocked down 12-of-27 threes and went 28-for-36 at the charity stripe to pave the way to the comeback win.
Seven players finished in double figures for Lenoir-Rhyne. Djibril Diallo had 17 to lead the charge. Darius Simmons chipped in 13 on 3-for-3 shooting from deep. Cory Thomas, RJ Gunn and Mason Hawks each tallied 12. Finally, Jonathan Jean and Deontae Weaver rounded things out with 11 and 10, respectively.
The Bears used a 10-0 run spanning the halftime break to whittle the Eagles' 19-point advantage down to nine early in the second half.
The Eagles kept L-R at arm's length for much of the second half. Carson-Newman was still up double-digits, 79-69 with 5:48 to play following a Blake Ervin (Maryville, Tenn.) three.
However, the Eagles would just make two field goals the remainder of regulation and through the overtime session. The Bears didn't tie the game until there were 24 seconds left, doing so on a pair of Corey Thomas free throws.
L-R then used a 9-0 run in OT to put the game on ice.
The loss is just the fourth for Carson-Newman in 108 games when the Eagles have had a lead with five minutes to play. It's the first since a 77-76 loss at Catawba on Feb. 4, 2017.
The Eagles shot 50 percent from the field for the game but just 9-for-27 (33 percent) from long range.
The Eagles were 14-for-24 at the charity stripe, albeit a paltry 5-for-10 in the final five minutes of regulation and overtime.
Mason Bates led C-N in defeat with 22 points and six rebounds. He was 8-for-14 from the floor. Parker Role' (Atlanta, Ga.) and Malik Abraham (Snellville, Ga.) both added in 14 points. Ervin and Chris Clayton (Marion, N.C.) both finished with 12.
Carson-Newman returns home Wednesday to take on Mars Hill. Tipoff with the Lions is set for 8 p.m. Pregame coverage starts at 7:45 on the Eagle Sports Network with the AEC Countdown to Tipoff on The Mountain 106.3 (WPFT-FM, Sevierville) and online at cneagles.com/live.