Eagles ride the strength of starting five to 88-75 win over Lander

VIDEO: Chuck Benson Interview

VIDEO: Sawyer Williams Interview


GREENWOOD, S.C.—All five of Carson-Newman's starters tallied double-digit scoring efforts as the Eagles took down a pesky Lander club 88-75 to conclude the Lander University Tip-Off Challenge with a perfect 2-0 record.

Prior to the 13-point victory for the Eagles on Saturday, Carson-Newman (2-0) took down Southern Wesleyan 106-83 Friday evening.

"Today was tough considering Lander is the home team and they are the defending Peach Belt Conference Champions, as well as an NCAA participant a year ago," coach Chuck Benson said following the win. "For us to come down here and play well enough to walk away with a win, I am just delighted for our guys."

Thanks to buckets from Sawyer Williams (Owenton, Ky.), Shaun Jones (Lawrenceville, Ga.) and a three-pointer from Cameron Holmes (fort Mill, S.C.), C-N jumped out to an 11-4 advantage just four minutes into the contest.

The lead grew to 10 a minute later following another Jones jumper but Lander (1-1) posted up on a 12-4 run to bring the score to 19-17 by the nine minute mark of the first half. The Eagles owned the next two minutes of play as Malik Abraham (Snellville, Ga.) and Holmes fired consecutive three-pointers on another 6-2 run.

The Bearcats once again made a comeback while taking its first lead of the game at 33-32 at the 2:45 mark of the first half. The next minute and a half saw both teams battle back-and-forth, retaking one-point leads before Lander's Rahu Purdie nailed a three-pointer as time expired in the first half.

At the break, the halftime score saw the Bearcats leading the Eagles 42-38.

C-N stormed out of the gates in the second half to record the first five points in the frame. Holmes made his third-three pointer of the game to open up the scoring in the new period while Jones added another layup to retake the lead at 43-42.  

The contest was then at a one-point advantage at the 16:25 mark before Carson-Newman began to increase its lead for good. Thanks in part to multiple personal recording baskets, the Eagles extended their lead to six in the next two minutes.

C-N's lead continue to grow up to nine with just under three minutes remaining before the Bearcats were forced to send Carson-Newman to the charity stripe with hopes of creating more possessions to climb battle back into the deficit.

The Eagles converted on their chances at the line to cruise to the 13-point win come the game's final buzzer.

Holmes led all scorers with 19 points—including making 5-of-8 from long distance. Jones finished with a solid 17 point effort while Williams, Clark and Pangallo finished with 15, 14 and 10 points respectively.  Mason Bates (Cookville, Tenn.) added seven points off the bench and Abraham followed a 21-point effort a night ago with four more points in Saturday's win.

"Holmes is a kid that is very capable. We signed him for a reason and I like his potential," Benson said. "Tonight, I felt like he had some good looks and took them with confidence. He is the type of guy that can really feed off confidence."

Carson-Newman finished the contest shooting 51.7 percent from the field—47 percent from three and 74 percent from the charity stripe. The Eagles multiple defensive scheme limited Lander to only 43 percent from the field and 28 from three.

"I feel like I got a better feel for our team this weekend. I loved our preseason and we trained very hard," Benson said. "This weekend has been really good at finding out who we are as a team. We will head home, rest up and get back after it next week."

The Eagles will head home for its first contest of the season inside Holt Fieldhouse with a 7:30 p.m. tip-off against Virginia-Wise on Wednesday. The game can be found via the Eagle Sports Network on both Mountain Country 106.5 FM and Joy 620 AM Radio, as well as online at cneagles.com/live.


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