VIDEO: Chuck Benson Interview
VIDEO: Malik Abraham Interview
VIDEO: Mason Bates Interview
ANDERSON, S.C. – Malik Abraham (Snellville, Ga.) sneaked into a wooden horse, emerged within the walls of the Abney Center and reigned down three after three on Anderson (13-11, 7-9 South Atlantic Conference) Wednesday night in the Electric City to power Carson-Newman (13-10, 6-9 SAC) to its first road win in two months.
The Eagles throttled the Trojans 96-70.
Abraham sniped Anderson for a career-high 32 points on 9-of-11 shooting from long distance. The nine made threes are tied with Andy Pennington and Ish Sanders for the second most in school history. His .818 shooting percentage from range is the third-best in school history. Abraham finished the game by knocking down nine consecutive triples, the third longest streak in NCAA history behind 10-in-a-row streaks by Florida Tech's Simon Cummings (2011) and Missouri S&T's Duane Huddleston (1986).
"He just went off," head coach Chuck Benson said. "He got on a roll and it was another level of hot. He knew it. Our guys knew it. We just tried to find them. I felt bad for Anderson, because it didn't matter. It wasn't like he wasn't being guarded. Anderson was hanging all over him, they played great defense. He just made them like it. That's tough. He just did it."
Not only did Abraham go ballistic from long range, he also became Carson-Newman's 28th 1,000-point scorer for a career. Abraham just needed two points entering the game to accomplish it. After missing his first two triples, Abraham knocked down a three to give C-N a 13-11 lead with 9:48 to go in the first half to get past the post for 1,000 career points.
"Throughout my career, I've wanted to have a performance like this," Abraham said. "It couldn't have come at a better time. We needed this win. I'm just happy to come up big like this. The 1,000-point club has been a huge goal of mine. It means a lot to reach that milestone and I thank God for it."
Abraham joined the 1,000-point club just four days after teammate Mason Bates (Cookeville, Tenn.) became the club's 27th member against Coker.
"It's a major accomplishment," Benson said of Abraham. "We're happy for him, and we're happy that he did it in three years. He's a guy though, who wants to win. Even more than he wants the individual recognition, that's why his performance has been better than it has at any other point in his career, because his desire and determination to win games is at an all-time high. I'm so happy we won, but I enjoyed watching Malik get rewarded for his commitment and buy in."
From there, Abraham just kept at it. He keyed a 17-5 first-half run that stretched the Eagles' advantage to double digits. The senior buried back-to-back treys with 5:06 left in the first half to give the Eagles' their first double-digit lead of the night at 30-18.
Abraham knocked down another three and followed it up with three free throws after he was fouled in the act of shooting to explode for 12 points in 3:21. He finished with 15 points in the first half before cranking the dial to 11 after halftime.
The Eagles ballooned a 12-point halftime lead out to as much as 29 thanks to a 15-0 run. Abraham drilled back-to-back threes to give C-N its first 20-point lead at 70-50 with 12:08 remaining before knocking down his ninth and final three of the night to produce the Eagles' biggest lead at 92-63 with 5:05 remaining.
"Malik's one of those guys when he really gets to feeling it, it's a different level," head coach Chuck Benson said. "His family was here tonight. I think we'll have to load them up and take them with us from here on out. He's had a solid season, but this was an incredibly high level performance to help him start to cap it."
Abraham's career-high 32 was the first such performance for C-N in nearly a calendar year. Charles Clark went for 32 against Tusculum 364 days ago.
The Snellville, Ga.-native's efforts overshadowed a sound and solid night by Bates. The senior turned in his sixth career double-double. Bates finished with 13 points and 12 rebounds.
"He showed toughness, he showed follow through with the scout," Benson said. "Mason's been such a reliable guy, what he did tonight isn't the least bit surprising."
Bates shot-making at the rim operated at a high level. He numerous off-balance leaners to finish 6-of-9 from the floor. He and Abraham comprised half of Carson-Newman's double-digit scorers. Nick Rogers (Knoxville, Tenn.) and Brendan Coleman (Johnson City, Tenn.) both finished with 10.
Carson-Newman finished the night shooting 63 percent (34-for-54) from the field and 57.7 percent (15-of-26) from three. It was Carson-Newman's second most efficient night offensively this year. The Eagles shot 65.6 percent from the field in their home opener against Lees-McRae. The 15 threes C-N knocked down are the second most in a game this year, however, the Eagles' 57.7 percent clip from long range is this year's top effort.
������@_malikabraham was on one tonight for @CN_Hoops— Carson-Newman Athletics (@CNathletics) February 14, 2019
9⃣ threes, second most in school history
.8⃣1⃣8⃣ three-point percentage, third most in school history
8⃣ straight made threes, third most in NCAA history pic.twitter.com/XBXeLgahSn
The Eagles smashed the glass outrebound Anderson by a factor of 2:1, 46-23. Carson-Newman last outrebounded a foe by at least 20 against Newberry on Dec. 3, 2016. The Eagles were +24 on the glass that day with a 47-23 edge.
"We've been making a big deal about rebounding," Benson said. "We've tweaked some of our schemes to help us to that end. However, nothing trumps pure old-fashioned desire and want to. We had guys that really wanted to collect boards, and we did that tonight."
While the Eagles' offense operated on a different plane of existence, C-N's defense was by no means poor. C-N held Anderson to a 1-for-11 start from the field. The Trojans finished the game shooting 36.6 percent from the field.
Gage Ellis and Jeremy Bouton paced the Trojans with 16 points apiece. Andrew Boynton and Randall Shaw added in 12 and 10, respectively.
"I like where we are emotionally and in terms of our chemistry and unity," Benson said. "Hopefully we can continue gaining momentum as we head down the stretch run. I hope our guys are beginning to understand what it takes physically and mentally to put together that type of 40-minute performance."
The win over Anderson is Carson-Newman's eighth straight over the Trojans, the Eagles' second-longest active win streak against a SAC foe. Carson-Newman won on the road for the first time since Dec. 15 while also colllecting back-to-back wins overall for the first time since that date as well.
The Eagles wrap up a two-game road trip with a Saturday jaunt to Salisbury, N.C. to take on Catawba. Tipoff is set for 4 p.m. Coverage will be available on the Eagle Sports Network starting at 3:45 with the AEC Countdown to Tipoff on The Mountain 106.3 (WPFT-FM, Seveirville) and online at cneagles.com/live.