VIDEO: Chuck Benson Interview
JEFFERSON CITY, Tenn. – Carson-Newman (13-12, 6-11 South Atlantic Conference) pays homage to four seniors when No. 10/9 Queens (24-3, 16-1 SAC) comes to Holt Fieldhouse for a 4 p.m. tipoff Saturday.
Malik Abraham (Snellville, Ga.), Mason Bates (Cookeville, Tenn.), Parker Role' (Atlanta, Ga.) and Grant Teichmann (Brentwood, Tenn.) will all play in the final full game of their careers in Holt Saturday.
The quartet will take the floor in Holt again Monday for the conclusion of the final 13:05 of the Mars Hill game that was suspended on Feb. 6.
"They've had a really exciting run here and been a part of a SAC title and a couple NCAA tournament runs," head coach Chuck Benson said. "We've won a lot more than we've lost. These guys will all graduate with a lot of memories and a lot of friendships. They've been a part of a lot of really good things here in their time."
This senior class has been to two NCAA tournaments and won a South Atlantic Conference Tournament Championship. The Eagles seniors are 89-58 in their career at Mossy Creek.
Abraham became Carson-Newman's 28th career 1,000-point scorer earlier this year against Anderson. He has 1,033 points for his career.
Abraham has been a three-point marksman throughout his career. His 245 career triples are the third most in school history. Abraham owns three of the top 12 single-season three-point marks at Mossy Creek.
He scored 32 points earlier this year against Anderson by going 9-for-11 from long range. He made nine straight threes to close the game, the second most in NCAA history.
Bates is also a member of Carson-Newman's 1,000-point club. He joined it earlier this year against Coker and sits at 1,038 points for his career.
The Cookeville, Tenn.-native has knocked down a pair of gamewinners in the final five seconds of games, doing so with a layup earlier this year against Coker and as a junior with a three against King. Bates is the 14th player in program history with at least 1,000 points and 500 rebounds in a career.
He matched a career high earlier this year when he scored 26 against Lander. He enters Saturday's game with 49 career double-digit scoring efforts.
Role' has blossomed into a pivotal post presence in his senior year. Role' is averaging a career-best 8.3 points per game in his final trip at Mossy Creek.
The Atlanta-native boasts a lifetime 58 percent shooting effort from the field. A figure Role' has upped this year by shooting 65 percent from the field.
Role' reset his career high earlier this year with a 21-point effort against Fort Valley State.
As a junior, Role' had a string of three consecutive games where he made 11 straight shots, a total that ranks second in school history for most shots taken without missing.
Teichmann is a two-year player for the Eagles after transferring in from Freed-Hardeman. In his collegiate career, Teichmann has scored more than 1,000 points, including 713 while wearing the Orange and Blue.
Teichmann has been a dime dropper for the Eagles. His 4.6 assists per game are tied for the third highest average for a career in C-N history.
He produced the first double-double for points and assists in more than a decade for the Eagles earlier this year when he had 16 points and 11 assists in a win against Lees-McRae.
Teichmann has 38 career double-digit scoring efforts in his career and has topped 20 points eight times in his senior season.
Standing in the way of the Eagles for a happy senior day is Queens.
Carson-Newman hasn't beaten Queens in eight attempts, C-N's longest active losing streak to a conference foe. In that span, the Royals have rolled up a pair of 22-point wins (the largest in the series' 14-game history) and three double-digit triumphs in the last four meetings. The Eagles' last win in the series came in 2015. Carson-Newman's three wins in the series have come by an average of 25 points.
The Royals have already sewn up no worse than a share of the South Atlantic Conference regular season crown, and will be looking to win their first league title outright Saturday (Queens shared last year's regular season title with LMU).
South Atlantic Conference Player of the Year candidate Shawn Willett has been positively beastly for the Royals. Willett has logged double-doubles in 22 of the Royals 27 games this year, a figure that leads all Division II as well as Division I and Division III. He has double-doubles in 13 of Queens last 15 games.
"If there was a stat for toughness, Willett would probably lead the league in that too," Benson said. "He's done his part as a senior to position them well. This is a really tough challenge. I really liked how we played in the first matchup, but we just couldn't put a complete 40 minutes together."
Willett leads the SAC in both scoring and rebounding. Willett is looking to become the first player to accomplish that feat since Keenan Palmore led the league in scoring and rebounding for Lenoir-Rhyne during the 2015-16 season.
However, the Royals are far from the Shawn Willett Show. Lewis Diankulu and Daniel Carr both have bolstered Queens in a big way.
Diankulu averages 12.1 points and 7.7 rebounds per game, while Carr chips in 16.4 points, 3.7 boards and 4.4 assists per game
"They are experienced," Benson said. "When you look at the combination 4-5 positions in this conference, I would rate them at the top. That doesn't even include Daniel Carr. He's as complete a player as there is in this league. They have all the pieces to advance to a national title game. Their roster is complete and tested."
Tipoff between the Eagles and Royals is set for 4 p.m. Saturday. Pregame coverage on the Eagle Sports Network starts at 3:45 with the AEC Countdown to Tipoff on The Mountain 106.3 (WPFT-FM, Sevierville) and online at cneagles.com/live.