VIDEO: Chuck Benson Interview
VIDEO: Mason Bates Interview
VIDEO: Parker Role' Interview
VIDEO: Malik Abraham Interview
VIDEO: Grant Teichmann Interview
JEFFERSON CITY, Tenn. – It only took Carson-Newman (14-13, 6-12 South Atlantic Conference) 456 hours to beat Mars Hill (9-16, 3-14 SAC) 85-73. Monday evening in Holt Fieldhouse, The Eagles and Lions wrapped up the final 13:04 of a suspended game from Feb. 6.
The win clinches Carson-Newman the final spot in the South Atlantic Conference tournament.
"This was such an unusual process," head men's basketball coach Chuck Benson said. "I thought both teams started out tight because we were supposed to pick up right where we left off with the same momentum and juice that we had. Thankfully, we were able to hang on and finish it."
Carson-Newman had a 12-point lead, 56-44, when the game was suspended thanks to heavy rain that began to leak onto the floor from Holt Fieldhouse's roof. The Eagles finished the game with a 12-point win in hand thanks to some clamp-down defense down the stretch.
Mars Hill made seven straight shots and used a 10-0 run to cut Carson-Newman's lead down to four, 72-68 with 4:27 to play on a pair of Ja'Shawn Brooks free throws. Mars Hill wouldn't make another shot the rest of the game as Carson-Newman switched from a man-to-man defense back to a zone.
"We didn't want to give them a lot of second and thirds. We also didn't want to give them open looks from three," Benson said. "We were able to go zone and that disrupted their flow and momentum. That gave us a little bit of a window to surge."
The Lions missed their final eight shots and went the final 4:59 of the contest without a field goal.
In the interim, C-N rattled off a 10-1 run to stretch the advantage back to double-digits with 1:25 to play. Mason Bates (Cookeville, Tenn.) fired the first counter punch with an and-one layin, then Parker Role' (Atlanta, Ga.) capped the run with a hook shot from the middle of the lane.
The bucket capped a fine night for Role'. He finished with his second career double-double and his second career 20-point scoring effort.
Role' had 20 points and 10 rebounds, 11 and four of which came after play resumed.
"All four of our seniors were critical," Benson said. "We only played six players, but the four seniors were critical in their shot making and rebounding. Thankfully Parker had arguably his best production. Parker did his part, made free throws, everything he did helped us capitalize."
Carson-Newman's four double-digit scorers were all seniors. Bates chased a double-double with 18 points and eight rebounds.
Brooks scored a game-high 26 to lead Mars Hill. Matthew Powell and Javonte Cook added in 12 and 11, respectively.
Carson-Newman dominated the glass, outrebound the Lions 43-28. C-N had a 12-4 advantage in second chance points.
Three weeks ago, the Eagles bounded out to a 22-point halftime lead, C-N's second largest halftime margin of the season before Mars Hill started to make some inroads into the deficit by the time an uncommon deluge of rain and a leaky roof halted play.
C-N used a 22-4 run in the first half to build its bulge. After Mars Hill cut a C-N lead down to two, 13-11, with 13:31 to play in the opening stanza, C-N exploded. Malik Abraham (Snellville, Ga.) hit successive threes, then Nick Rogers (Knoxville, Tenn.) drilled another long-range jumper to turn C-N's two-point advantage into a double-digit edge in a matter of 1:22.
The lead peaked at 22 at the break when Grant Teichmann (Brentwood, Tenn.) scooped in a layup with 44 seconds left in the half.
However, it was Mars Hill who dominated the early portion of the second half. The Lions scored the first 11 of the second half thanks to some shoddy ball control from C-N. The Eagles turned it over four times in the first 2:36 of the period. Javonte Cook turned in a pair of fast break buckets off steals, while Ja'Shawn Brooks flipped one in as well.
C-N stretched the lead back to 17, 53-36, with 15:36 to play on a Bates lay-in before the Lions scored eight straight to get the lead down to single digits on back-to-back Brooks threes from the head of the key.
Teichmann had the final salvo from C-N before the rains came with a corner three, delaying the outcome until Monday.
Carson-Newman wraps up the regular season Saturday at Newberry. Tipoff with the Wolves is set for 4 p.m. 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.