Golden Bulls’ torrid second half sinks Eagles 85-71

VIDEO: Chuck Benson Interview  

JEFFERSON CITY, Tenn. – Johnson C. Smith (4-10) became the first team in 12 years to shoot better than 70 percent in a half on Carson-Newman (10-8) en route to an 85-71 win over the Eagles' Monday night in Holt Fieldhouse.

The Golden Bulls poured in 19-of-27 shots after halftime to turn a two-point halftime deficit into the 14-point win. Johnson C. Smith snapped a four-game road losing streak while ending Carson-Newman's 15-game non-conference winning streak in the process.

"I have to defend my guys," head men's basketball coach Chuck Benson said. "What we saw today can happen.  I can't explain.  Johnson C. Smith made stupid shots. It was just stupid the shot making that I saw today.  If you look at what JSCU had done this year offensively, it ain't this.  It ain't this on any level on any day, it ain't this. 

"I can't explain it. These were shots that we want teams to take, because you're banking on the percentages playing in your favor, but people win in Vegas every day. I have to give the Golden Bulls credit, Johnson C. Smith tonight made a lot of difficult, well-contested shots.  If you can take and make non-rhythm, dribble, fall-away threes with a hand in your face, hats off to you. They did that tonight."

The Golden Bulls entered the game shooting 40 percent from the field and 31 percent from three. They averaged 69 points per game coming into the contest and ranked among the bottom two in most offensive categories in the CIAA.  If JCSU were members of the South Atlantic Conference, they would be last in the league in scoring, field goal percentage and second from the bottom in three-point field goal percentage. 

Yet, JCSU finished the game with a season-high 58.9 percent shooting effort with 5-of-12 (41.7 percent) shooting from long distance.  The 85 points the Golden Bulls scored are the second most they put up all year and just their third scoring effort of more than 75. 

Rodric Ross paced the Golden Bulls with 27 points and 10 boards.  He came into the contest making 39 percent of his shots and 26 percent of his threes. He went 11-for-16 from the field and 3-for-5 from range. 

Cayse Minor added in 22 points for the Golden Bulls.  He entered the game 43 percent from the field and 33 percent from three. Minor proceeded to make 7-of-8 shots and both the threes he took. 

The Golden Bulls victory denied Carson-Newman a chance a back-to-back wins since downing Fort Valley State and Coker in succession Dec. 8-15. 

"It is impossible to build on success when a team does what Johnson C. Smith did tonight," Benson said. "It had nothing to do what with us and everything to do with them.  The chances of them making the shots they took tonight wasn't very high, but they made them. If anything, we have to, and I say this all the time, be more poised and handle adversity and prosperity well.  It's not that I think our guys didn't do that, this was just a weird game." 

The Eagles looked set up for success early on.  The Eagles built a 10-point lead midway through the first half following back-to-back threes from Nick Rogers and Malik Abraham.  Johnson C. Smith answered and closed the half on a 7-2 spurt to get the deficit down to two by the break. 

Then the Golden Bulls dropped a nuke to open up the second half.  The Golden Bulls scored on their first seven possessions of the period to encapsulate a 21-6 run spanning the break that turned a seven-point first half deficit into a seven-point second half lead with 16:12 remaining. 

The Eagles responded and cut that lead back to one, 51-50 with 12:59 to play following a triple from Grant Teichmann (Brentwood, Tenn.) and a layup from Parker Role' (Atlanta, Ga.).

However, JCSU countered with a 12-0 spurt of its own.  It marked a stretch were JCSU scored points on 11 of 13 possessions and stretched its advantage to as large as 17.

Teichmann led Carson-Newman's attack with 16 points, albeit an inefficient 16.  He was 6-for-17 from the field and 3-of-11 from three.  Abraham added in 13, while Reece Anderson (Douglasville, Ga.) and Nick Rogers (Knoxville, Tenn.) both finished with 11. 

The loss marks the first for Carson-Newman when leading by double digits at some point in the game all year. It's the first time C-N has given up a double-digit advantage since falling 75-70 to Newberry on Dec. 2, 2017.  The Eagles led that day by 10 with 9:09 to play in the first half.

"What's critical is that we take this and try to find some lesson to build on," Benson said. "That was frustrating to watch.  Today we experienced, something that we didn't anticipate happening, but happened today against us.  Their offense impacted our mentality today.  Our offensive performance in the second half was down because of what they were doing offensively." 

The Eagles return to action Saturday against Wingate with a 4 p.m. tipoff inside Holt Fieldhouse. Pregame coverage for that contest begins at 3:45 on the Eagle Sports Network with the AEC Countdown to Tipoff on The Mountain 106.3 (WPFT-FM, Sevierville) and online at