Furious rally falls short, C-N drops 87-74 decision at Mars Hill

VIDEO: Chuck Benson Interview

VIDEO: Reece Anderson Interview

MARS HILL, N.C. – Carson-Newman (7-4, 1-4 South Atlantic Conference) pulled off a frantic rally, but a 22-point second half deficit was too much to overcome.  Mars Hill (6-4, 1-2 SAC) tallied an 87-74 win after withstanding the Eagles' push Wednesday night at Stanford Arena. 

"I liked our guys fight and determination," head coach Chuck Benson said. "We stayed focus on the things we could control, especially on the defensive end.  Then, credit to Mars Hill, they're shot making surprised me.  They made some tough, timely shots.  They had guys do some things tonight offensively in terms of shot-making that they hadn't done this season."

The win gives Mars Hill back-to-back victories over Carson-Newman for the first time since the final meeting during the 2008-09 campaign and the first go-around during the 2009-10 season. 

The Lions roared out of the gates in the first two minutes of the second half to turn an 11-point halftime lead into a 51-29 advantage with 15:53 to go in the second stanza thanks to a 13-1 run. 

Chris Barnette sandwiched two threes around a Matthew Powell contorted leaner to stretch the advantage to 22. 

Carson-Newman mounted its surge almost immediately.  The Eagles rattled off a 16-3 run over the next five minutes to cut the deficit to as little as seven.  C-N had gotten it down to single digits at 57-48 with 10:04 to play following a pair of Malik Abraham (Snellville, Ga.) threes and a quartet of Reece Anderson (Douglasville, Ga.) free throws.

The Eagles would draw within seven on seven occasions the rest of the way, but never could push past that final hump.  The Lions went 10-for-11 at the stripe in the final minute to put the game on ice and set the final margin at 87-74. 

The primary catalyst for the run was the Eagles ability to get to the stripe.   The Eagles went to  the line 29 times in  the second half and knocked down 22 free throws.  Anderson made 13-of-15 after halftime en route to his first career 20-point effort.  He finished with a game-high 23 on 4-of-8 shooting from the field and a 13-of-19 effort from the line. 

"It was stops, pure and simple, it was defensive stops," Benson said. "We got multiple stops in that stretch and we capitalized.  The other thing we did a great job at was having our north-south attack working.  Our goal was to score without the clock moving.  Our guys followed through driving and getting to the line.  We definitely can learn from this and build from this."

Carson-Newman constructed a solid brick house after going 3-for-20 from long range, it's worst three-point shooting effort of the season.  Carson-Newman was 20-for-34 (58.8 percent) inside the three-point stripe.  The Eagles finished at 42.6 percent for the game. 

"The biggest thing that surprised me was our inability to make shots," Benson said. "We weren't taking bad shots, we weren't getting poor looks; we just weren't making shots.  We didn't shoot the ball the way we typically do. Our defense was good enough to win, our offense wasn't good enough to win."

As a result, the Lions dominated the glass, outrebounding Carson-Newman 49-33.  C-N only had four offensive rebounds on the day. 

Aside from Anderson's 23, C-N got double-digit scoring efforts from Parker Role' (Atlanta, Ga.), Mason Bates (Cookeville, Tenn.,) and Grant Teichmann (Brentwood, Tenn.). 

Role' and Bates each had 12.  Teichmann added in 10. 

The Southeast Region's leading scorer Ja'Shawn Brooks paced Mars Hill with 23.  He was 6-of-10 from the floor and 1-of-3 from deep.  Brooks was below has average until the final minute when he knocked down seven free throws. 

Dotson Griffin and Javonte Cook had dueling double-doubles for the Lions.  Griffin had 14 points and 11 boards. Cook chipped in 14 points and 12 rebounds. 

Carson-Newman takes two weeks off for  Christmas before returning to the hardwood Jan. 2 against UVA-Wise.  Tipoff inside Holt Fieldhouse is set for 7 p.m.  Pregame coverage on the Eagle Sports Network starts at 6:45 p.m. with the AEC Countdown to Tipoff on Mountain Country 106.3 (WPFT-FM, Sevierville) and online at cneagles.com/live.