VIDEO: Chuck Benson Interview
VIDEO: Malik Abraham Interview
VIDEO: Charles Clark Interview
JEFFERSON CITY, Tenn. – Carson-Newman (3-0) held UVA-Wise (1-2) to two field goals in the final 8:30 of game action to rally from down six in the final three minutes and collect its first overtime win in two seasons, 96-91 in front of 1,271 fans inside a raucous Holt Fieldhouse Wednesday night.
The win was accentuated by Charles Clark (Murfreesboro, Tenn.) eclipsing the 1,000-point threshold for his career. He becomes the 24th member of that club at Carson-Newman.
UVA-Wise led 82-74 with 3:37 left in regulation, but Carson-Newman used a 9-1 run to tie things up at 83 and force overtime. Sawyer Williams (Owenton, Ky.) started the comeback with a whirly-gig layup with 3:14 to play. A Mason Bates (Cookeville, Tenn.) putback and Malik Abraham (Snellville, Ga.) finger roll brough the Eagles within a pair with 1:58 to play.
After the Cav's Taiwo Badmus connected on the second of two free throws with 48 seconds left, the Eagles got the ball in Abraham's hands at the top of the key. The sophomore calmly buried a three to even the game.
Carson-Newman forced UVA-Wise into a shot clock violation on the ensuing possession, but some ball-handling issues on the Eagles' end resulted in a half court heave that fell short for C-N and sent the game to overtime.
C-N held the Cavs without a field goal for the final 3:37 of regulation.
"I thought we had a pretty good plan," C-N head coach Chuck Benson said. "But we were a little bit trial by fire. Late in the game, Sawyer Williams did a good job of protecting the rim and the paint. The guys dug in and got stops."
The overtime period started inauspiciously. UVA-Wise jumped out to a 5-0 run with a layin from Leandro Amador and a triple by Dimitri Sousa.
Much like the end of the second half, C-N clamped down in overtime. UVA-Wise wouldn't hit another shot the rest of the way.
Abraham gave the Eagles the lead, 89-88 with 1:17 to play on a triple from the right corner.
"He drilled two shots that were critical for us," Benson said. "That's what he does, he's a shot maker. We called his number both times and got just enough separation to get the shots off."
A Shaun Jones (Lawrenceville, Ga.) and free throws from Cameron Holmes (Fort Mill, S.C.), Clark and Zack Pangallo (Newport, Ky.) gave the Eagles the necessary cushion to collect their first overtime win since January 2015 at Newberry.
UVA-Wise got 62 points from two players. Sousa had 32 on 14-of-23 shooting, including 6-for-12 from deep while Badmus had a 27-point, 13-rebound double-double. The duo accounted for more than 68 percent of the Cavs' scoring.
"You have to give all the credit to UVA-Wise," Benson said. "They came in here and brought their A+ game. What Sousa and Badmus did to us tonight, I don't know if we've dealt with a one-two punch that brutalized us like that."
Meanwhile, the Eagles countered with a quartet of double-digit scorers. Clark had 25 and came a rebound shy of his third career double-double. Abraham finished with an efficient 18 on 6-for-10 shooting from the field and 4-of-7 from deep.
Williams added 16, while Pangallo had 12.
A crowd of 1,271 filled Holt Fieldhouse for the opener. C-N won its first home game of the year for a second straight season, but it probably wouldn't without the crowd, at least according to Benson.
"Our fans were fantastic," Benson said. "I don't know if we could ask for more. This was a late January atmosphere in early November. They were huge. You never know how many people will be here early on, but they came out in droves. They were our sixth man for us."
Carson-Newman fired away at a 54 percent clip for the game and went 10-for-26 from long range. C-N forced 11 second half Cavalier turnovers, turning them into 17 points.
The Eagles notched their 11th win in 55 tries over the last five years when trailing with under five minutes to play.
C-N returns home on Tuesday to take on nationally-ranked Lincoln Memorial. Tipoff with the 'Splitters is set for 8 p.m. Coverage on the Eagle Sports Network starts at 7:45 with the AEC Countdown to Tipoff on Mountain Country 106.3 (WPFT-FM, Sevierville) and online at cneagles.com/live.