VIDEO: Chuck Benson Interview
The Eagles' 17 turnovers were in apposition to the Golden Bulls' six giveaways. JCSU had 25 points off turnovers to the Eagles' seven.
"We had multiple players who were careless with the basketball," head coach Chuck Benson said. "We did not execute the things we talk about and work on. You cannot be more detail oriented about the finer points of this game than we are. Unfortunately, we have some people in this organization that are learning a very hard less about that right now. If you're not detail oriented against competitive teams, you'll be exposed. We were exposed today."
Carson-Newman has now lost three straight games, the second time that's happened to the Eagles since 2010. The win is Johnson C. Smith's six consecutive against Carson-Newman. The Eagles haven't beaten the Golden Bulls since 2001.
The 17 turnovers are a season high for the Eagles, as are the 25 points allowed off turnovers. Charles Clark (Murfreesboro, Tenn.), Shaun Jones (Lawrenceville, Ga.) and Reece Anderson (Douglasville, Ga.) all coughed up four turnovers – a season high for each player.
Most of the giveaways were of the live-ball variety. Johnson C. Smith had 12 steals on the day, the most C-N has allowed since Newberry had 15 takeaways on Dec. 5, 2015. Gabon Williams was the top pilferer for the Golden Bulls. The junior guard had five swipes, a two-year high for a C-N opponent dating back to February 2015 when Miles Leathers had six for Brevard.
Johnson C. Smith shot 50 percent from the field in the second half to prevent any shot of a comeback from the Eagles. The Golden Bulls were bottom 10 in the country with 4.2 made threes per game coming into the contest. They knocked down 6-of-16 against C-N.
"After the games at Kentucky Wesleyan, I thought how we played was an outlier. I was wrong, how we're playing is a reality," Benson said. "We have several guys, several new guys in particular, who don't understand that the thing that you can bring every night to the table is great effort and great attitude, especially on the defensive end. This is the worst defensive team we've had since I've been here, by far, it's not even close – it's not even arguable. When you're not making shots. That doesn't work."
On the flip side, Carson-Newman's shooting woes continued. The Eagles knocked down 4-of-17 threes after averaging 9.8 a game on their four-game win streak to start the season. Carson-Newman wound up shooting 43.3 percent from the field for the game.
The Eagles had moments where they knocked down successive shots, but never could string together enough minutes of quality basketball to complete the comeback. Carson-Newman trailed by 11 with 7:10 remaining in the second half before using a 7-0 run to whittle the deficit down to four, 73-69 with 5:47 to play. A Sawyer Williams (Owenton, Ky.) and-one, followed by a Malik Abraham (Snellville, Ga.) three helped carve the deficit down to two possessions.
However, following that streak, the Eagles wouldn't hit another field goal for another 4:30 of game action while the Golden Bulls stretched the lead back to double digits off a Malik Ford hook shot with 3:39 to play.
Carson-Newman outrebounded the Golden Bulls 40-33. Jones was especially prolific on the glass. He snatched 15 rebounds, the most since Scott Williams grabbed 15 against Newberry on Jan. 5, 2006. With 10 points, he had his third double-double of the year.
Sawyer Williams tallied 11 boards with a season-high 25 points for his eighth career double-double. Clark added 17 points. Abraham had 12.
"There's nothing new about the challenge for our guys to have an aggressive tone of getting on the glass," Benson said. "I'm happy for Shaun on an individual level. Unfortunately, this is a team sport on every level. I can't tell you how disappointed I am on an overall level. To see the lack of care, I thought we had right out of the gate, we had one guy in particular who seemed sort of flat from the jump.
"I don't understand that, and it was sort of a domino effect. It seemed like we thought that they were just going to give it to us. Johnson C. Smith is historically a team that fight. That's what they're known for. For us to not be up to that fight. I just don't understand it."
Christian Kirchman more than doubled his season average for scoring with 26 points on 10-of-19 shooting. He had 11 assists as well for the first double-double with assists against Carson-Newman since Lorenza Ross for LMU in February 2015.
Malik Ford chipped in with 21 points. He was 8-for-11 from the field.
The Eagles will try to halt their losing streak with their road conference opener. The Eagles take on Newberry Saturday at 4 p.m. from Eleazer Arena. Coverage on the Eagle Sports Network starts at 3:45 with the AEC Countdown to Tipoff on Mountain Country 106.3 (WPFT-FM, Sevierville) and online at cneagles.com/live.