VIDEO: Chuck Benson Interview
OWENSBORO, Ky. – Carson-Newman (4-2) missed the first 14 threes it shot, then couldn't get the requisite defensive stops in the second half as Winona State (3-1) mustered a 73-69 win over the Eagles Saturday afternoon at the Owensboro Sportscenter in the consolation game of the Hampton Inn Kentucky Wesleyan Thanksgiving Classic.
The Eagles lose back-to-back games for the first time this season.
"I'm sorta speechless because if you tell me that this team goes 0-for-14 from three getting good looks, I don't believe you," head coach Chuck Benson said. "That was so disheartening. Me, the staff and other guys on the team were trying to stay so ultra-positive because we took good shots. It got better the second half, but there was almost an "oh-no!" mentality there. It doesn't appear that we have the poise yet to rally past those spots yet."
Carson-Newman opened the contest with its worst half shooting the basketball this season. The Eagles went 10-for-30 from the field to open the game while missing the first 14 threes it took.
However, Carson-Newman played good enough defense to stay in the game. The Eagles trailed 28-25 at the halftime break thanks to a 2-3 zone that held the Warriors to 35 percent shooting (11-for-31), including 3-for-16 shooting from long range.
Carson-Newman's poor shooting was especially surprising because much of it came from its normally efficient stars.
"Guys that I have seen make shots, they missed today," Benson said. "We were getting good looks, they just weren't going. A lot of the stuff that's a big part of our plan came to fruition. We outrebounded them. We shot twice as many free throws as them. You'd like to think that this is just an outlier."
The team's swapped leads 11 times and were tied 11 times for the game's first 30 minutes before Winona State created just a smidge of separation with 54.55 percent shooting in the second half.
Shaun Jones (Lawrenceville, Ga.) created a smidge of separation for the Eagles with an and-one conversion with 10:55 left in the second half that put C-N ahead 46-43. However, the Warriors rallied with a 9-0 run that proved to be the difference.
Corey Jeffs buried a three, which was followed by back-to-back right-wing triples from Riley Bambenek. Two minutes later, Winona State had a 52-46 lead in hand it would not relinquish.
Carson-Newman would get within two numerous times, but never could push over the hump.
Trailing by six with 83 seconds left, C-N made one last gasp effort to come back. Abraham knocked down a three with 76 seconds left, that was followed by a Clark free throw with 37 seconds left to get the Eagles within two, 71-69.
Carson-Newman got the stop it needed on the other end, but the Warriors Kyle Bauman grabbed an offensive board with seven seconds left, got fouled and went to the line to sink to free throws to set the final margin at 73-69 in favor of the Warriors.
Bambenek and Bauman led the charge for the Warriors with 19 points apiece. Connor Flack added 10.
The Eagles had three players finish in double figures. Clark collected his third career double-double with 17 points and 12 rebounds. He had a career high four offensive boards. Sawyer Williams (Owenton, Ky.) added 16 points and seven boards. Abraham added 11.
Abraham and Clark combined to go 8-for-29 from the floor together. They were 3-for-18 from three combined.
Carson-Newman returns home Wednesday to take on Johnson C. Smith. Tipoff against the Golden Bulls is set for 7. Coverage on the Eagle Sports Network starts at 6:45 with the AEC Countdown to Tipoff on Mountain Country 106.3 (WPFT-FM, Sevierville) and online at cneagles.com/live.