VIDEO: Chuck Benson recaps Anderson
ANDERSON, S.C. – The Carson-Newman men's basketball team suffered its worst shooting performance of the season in a 75-71 loss to Anderson Saturday afternoon at the Abney Athletic Center.
The Eagles (4-5, 1-2 South Atlantic Conference) held a 69-68 lead with 3:07 remaining after a mid-range jumper by EJ Bush (Oak Ridge, Tenn.) but went one-for-five from the field the rest of the way as the Trojans marched on a seven-to-two scoring run to seal the conquest. C-N shot 37 percent from the field.
Bush finished with a team-high 19 points and game-high 14 rebounds, his fourth double-double of the season. The junior forward struggled from the free throw line, going just one-for-six. He wasn't the only Eagle to struggle in that area as the team was 14-for-26 from the charity stripe as a whole.
"You've got to shoot free throws better than that, they're free, they're not guarded," Carson-Newman coach Chuck Benson said. "I typically focus more on what we can control. None of our kids meant to miss those shots. They followed our lead and attacked in such a way to get those shots, we just got to figure out a way to make more of them."
Sophomore guard Luke Brenegan (Greenville, S.C.) finished with 12 points and nailed a trio of three-pointers. Senior guard Tripp Davis (Nashville, Tenn.) returned to the lineup after a two-game absence with a sprained ankle. He added 10 points and took down 9 rebounds but shot just two-for-ten from the field.
"Tripp Davis was very much a part of us pushing that second half to take the lead," Benson said. "He's missed 50 percent of our games, this is his first game back too so I think he's getting into the rhythm a little bit too."
C-N came into the contest with the second-best rebounding total in the nation at nearly 47 boards per contest. That trend continued in this one as the Eagles won the rebounding battle 50-33 including an 18-10 advantage on the offensive glass. The team struggled to convert those second chances into scores, however, posting just six second-chance points while the Trojans scored seven.
"First of all, they've got some really big bodies in there," Benson said. "… They had length, they had size in there… We've been doing a great job of that."
Anderson (4-3, 1-2 SAC) broke an eight-game losing streak to Carson-Newman, it was the longest current Eagles winning streak against a SAC foe.
Redshirt-senior Shawn Bernard poured in a game-high 29 points on 11-for-21 shooting, ten rebounds and four assists while playing every second of the contest. Junior guard Quin Nottingham, the leading scorer in the conference and the eighth-best scorer in the nation at 25 points per game contributed 23 points on 8-for-18 shooting while hauling in 10 rebounds and dishing out four assists.
"They are given a complete, more or less, green light to attack by [head coach Jeff Brookman] which is wise on his part." Benson said. "…We knew they were going to be taking shots, we just wanted to impact efficiency."
Junior forward Josh Livingston entered the afternoon averaging 16 points per game but the Eagles held him to just four points on one-for-seven shooting. The trio of Bernard, Nottingham and Livingston came into the game combining to average 74.7 percent of the team's scoring on a nightly basis.
C-N next visits Division I Belmont in an exhibition game on Dec.11 at 6:30 p.m. at the Curb Event Center in Nashville, Tennessee. Coverage on the Eagles Sports Network starts at 6:15 with the AEC Countdown to Tipoff on The Mountain 106.3 (WPFT-FM, Sevierville) and online at cneagles.com/live.
"It will be a good experience," Benson said. "We're going to go in there and try to put our best foot forward but to be honest to tell you that I'm giving it almost no consideration would be a true statement. I'm much more interested in Coker and Mars Hill as we go into the break"
The Eagles will then face SAC rival Coker on Dec.14 at 4 p.m. at Holt Fieldhouse followed by MHU on Dec.18 at 7 p.m.
"Our number one focus will be our kid's finals," Benson said. "We've got three days of finals left and we want them to finish strong but we'll be doing some advanced scouting, some advanced preparation for Coker, comes in Saturday and that's where our time and attention will be."
Be sure to keep up with the Eagles all season long on all of C-N's social media platforms and on cneagles.com.