Defensively dominant Eagles win eighth straight against Cobras

VIDEO: Chuck Benson Interview

VIDEO: Malik Abraham Interview

VIDEO: Mason Bates Interview 

HARTSVILLE, S.C. – Carson-Newman (7-3, 1-3 South Atlantic Conference) turned in its best defensive performance in four years to clobber Coker (2-6, 0-3 SAC) Saturday afternoon at the Deloach Center.

Carson-Newman held Coker to a woeful 23-for-76 (30.3 percent) shooting effort from the field and a 4-of-24 effort from long range.  The win for the Eagles is Carson-Newman's eighth straight over Coker. 

The Cobras' 30.3 percent shooting effort is the lowest by a Carson-Newman opponent since the Eagles held Wingate to 27.4 percent shooting on Jan. 3, 2015. 

"We mixed it up quite a bit today," head men's basketball coach Chuck Benson said. "We knew they were a team that rellied on certain players.  The one-two punch of mixing defensive packages and limiting the efficiency of Khalil Halls offensively was the difference.  There's no question that this was our most complete defensive effort of the year." 

Carson-Newman and Coker battled back and forth for the first half.  The teams were tied five times and swapped leads five times through the first 18 minutes before Carson-Newman created separation. 

The Eagles rattled off a 6-0 run to close the half and a 6-0 run to open up the second half to take a double-digit lead. 

The work to close the first half primarily came at the stripe.  Grant Teichmann (Brentwood, Tenn.) and Mason Bates (Cookeville, Tenn.) both knocked down free throws to send C-N into the halftime locker room up 33-27. 

"We're always trying to finish halves on positive notes," Benson said. "Our guys did that, then we picked up where we left off.  We came out and were excited, confident and got it going."

Bates was responsible for the burst to open the second half too.  He knifed to the rim  twice for layups to put C-N up 39-27, 99 seconds into the second half. 

"It was all around a team effort," Bates said. "We've talked lately about how the best way to generate our offense is to get stops on defense.  Today we showed that we can get stops on defense showing multiple defenses and getting out on the break and running."

Bates was a major impetus for Carson-Newman's sold second half in general.  He tallied 15 points and six rebounds after halftime.  Bates led all scorers with 22 points and nine rebounds.  Bates went 7-for-11 from the floor and 7-for-7 from the line. 

The effort was his fourth career 20-point scoring effort.  The Eagles are unbeaten when he tops 20 points. 

"They were pressing us and extending out trying to let their aggressive pressure take us out of our offensive attack," Benson said. "I thought we had really good north-south attack to get to the rim and to the line.  Mason in particular did that.  We needed someone to step up.  Mason did that, especially in the second half."

The Eagles used 8-0 and 13-2 runs later in the stanza to stretch the lead as large as 19. Coker got as close as four before the Eagles responded with that 8-0 flourish, buoyed by two Malik Abraham (Snellville, Ga.) threes to stretch the advantage back to double figures. 

Abraham finished with 12 points including nine in the second half.  Teichmann was  Carson-Newman's third double-digit scorer.  He had 11 points to go with six boards and four assists. 

Carson-Newman shot 58.1 percent from the field after halftime and finished at 52.7 percent for the game. 

Meanwhile, Coker couldn't buy a bucket.  The Eagles flummoxed the SAC's fifth leading scorer into an off night.  Halls finished with 12 points on a paltry 5-of-19 effort from the field.  He was Coker's only double-digit scorer. 

The Eagles outrebounded the Cobras 41-32, that included a 22-11 edge on the glass after halftime.  Carson-Newman also dominated inside, outscoring Coker 48-30 in the paint.  \

This was Carson-Newman's fourth straight double-digit win over the Cobras. 

Carson-Newman wraps up play in the first semester Wednesday at Mars Hill. Tipoff from Sanford Arena is set for 8 p.m.  Pregame coverage starts at 7:45 with the AEC Countdown to Tipoff on Mountain Country 106.3 (WPFT-FM, Sevierville) and online at