VIDEO: Chuck Benson Interview
NASHVILLE, Tenn. - Carson-Newman battled Division I Belmont to a near statemate for the first 15 minutes of the game before the Bruins took over and overwhelmed Carson-Newman 105-56 Wednesday night at the Curb Event Center.
Carson-Newman trailed 25-20 with five minutes to play in the first half after holding the Bruins scoreless for 3:30. Then, Belmont exploded. The Bruins made their final eight shots of the period to finish the first half on a 21-2 run. The Bruins turned that five-point edge into a 48-22 halftime lead.
The surge was a part of a remarkable 14 minutes for Belmont. In that time, Belmont knocked down 20-of-22 shots, including 11-of-12 from long range.
"We knew full and well when we took this opportunity that it would be the most challenging scenario we faced," Carson-Newman head men's basketball coach Chuck Benson said. "By no means am I disappointed in the outcome as much as I am in our response at times to the adversity of the situation. We played neck and neck for the first 15 minutes. Then the basket closed up on us. We struggled to make shots over and over again thanks to their length, and that impacted every other component of the game."
With a pair of 6-11 players in Nick Muszynski and Seth Adelsperger, the Bruins length bothered C-N into a tough shooting night. The Eagles were 20-for-69 from the floor, finishing at 29.0 percent.
Meanwhile, Belmont knocked down 56.3 percent of their shots and 16 of their 35 three-point attempts for the game.
The Bruins withered the nets in the second half, making 24-of-38 shots (63.2 percent).
"We wanted to work to improve defensively, and as crazy as it sounds, we actually solidified some things defensively in the second half," Benson said. "We had some takeaway from that in a positive way. But yeah, Belmont can obviously make some shots."
The Bruins size advantage also led to a 53-30 edge on the glass.
Belmont had six players finish in double digits. Ben Sheppard led the charge with a game-high 18. He was 6-for-9 from the field and 3-for-5 from the three. Adam Kunkle added in 17 while Muzeynski powered in 15 points and seven boards.
Zailan Peeler (Charlotte, N.C.) was Carson-Newman's lone double-digit scorer with 13 points.
"I thought he had great poise and determination," Benson said. "Every time he plays is another opportunity for him to get confidence and play better."
Richard Henderson added in eight points on 4-of-8 shooting in his first action in two weeks.
"This wasn't a win, this wasn't a loss. This was just an opportunity. Nothing more, nothing less," Benson said. "Our focus immediately shifts to our next opponent Coker."
Carson-Newman returns home to take on Coker inside Holt Fieldhouse Saturday at 4 p.m. Pregame coverage for the matchup with the Cobras begins 15 minutes prior to gametime with the AEC Countdown to Tipoff on The Mountain 106.3 (WPFT-FM, Sevierville) and online at cneagles.com/live.