VIDEO: Chuck Benson Interview
VIDEO: Tripp Davis Interview
VIDEO: EJ Bush Interview
JEFFERSON CITY, Tenn. – Bolstered by a withering pace of play, Carson-Newman (1-2) leapt out to an 18-4 advantage five minutes in and never trailed in a 113-98 shellacking of Shorter (1-2) Wednesday night in Holt Fieldhouse.
Seven different players finished in double figures for the first time in school history as Carson-Newman opened the doors to Holt Fieldhouse for a fifth straight year with a win.
"I thought our defensive intensity, ball pressure and defensive approach at the start of the game was at a really high level," head coach Chuck Benson said. "We capitalized on the offensive end and shot the ball really well. I was very pleased with the way we started and our aggressiveness and approach in front of a nice home crowd."
EJ Bush (Oak Ridge, Tenn.), Tripp Davis (Nashville, Tenn.) and Kamil Chapman (Charlotte, N.C.) all plopped down 16 points to lead C-N. While Jaylan McGill (Charlotte, N.C.) added in 14 points. Reece Anderson (Douglasville, Ga.) and Zailan Peeler (Charlotte, N.C.) each had 12, while Luke Brenegan (Brentwood, Tenn.) rounded out Carson-Newman's double-digit scores with 10.
While all seven players filled it up, they also did so at an efficient clip. Carson-Newman singed the nets to the tune of 69 percent shooting in the first half. All seven players who hit for double digits shot at least 50 percent from the field. Bush was the most efficient of the septet, going 8-for-10 from the field.
"We've thought all along that we had guys that could do that on any given night," Benson said. "When guys share the ball, things like this can happen, I'm glad that we have so many guys who are capable of doing that."
The Eagles bounded out on 12-0, 7-0 and 8-0 runs in the first half to stretch a lead as large as 29 in the opening 20 minutes.
Kaleb Wallace (Atlanta, Ga.) thundered down a fast break jam off an Anderson steal to set the Eagles on an 18-4 run to open the game before the Hawks called for time with 14:47 to play in the first half.
A 15-4 spurt five minutes later gave C-N its biggest lead of the night, 39-10 following a three from Peeler and a pair of Brenegan free throws.
Carson-Newman took a 68-45 lead into the halftime locker room. The 68 points are the most Carson-Newman has put up in a half since dropping 67 on Tusculum in the second half of a game on Valentine's Day in 2018.
The Eagles then stiff-armed the Hawks for the win in the second half. Shorter did close the game on a 13-3 run to make things appear a bit tighter than they were.
"What I really liked was our attitude and approach on the defensive side of the ball," Benson said. "However, the truth of the matter is that we did not sustain that level of intensity in the second half. Our guys seemed like they were lulled and a little bored because the overall situation wasn't as competitive, and we showed we weren't ready to handle that prosperity by losing our focus."
C-N shot 54.9 percent from the field, making 42 field goals on 78 attempts. The 42 made shots are tied for the ninth highest single-game total in program history.
Carson-Newman knocked down 12-of-26 threes (48 percent) and scorched the nets by going 8-for-16 from long range in the second half.
In spite of the up-tempo pace of play, Carson-Newman only turned the ball over nine times and held a 19-7 edge in points off turnovers.
Jay Shropshire led Shorter with 24 points, the bulk of which came in the second half. Shropshire went 5-for-8 from long range after halftime and had 17 second-half points. He was one of five Hawks in double figures.
Bryan Polanco had a double-double with 12 points and 13 rebounds.
The Eagles return to Holt Fieldhouse Monday night to face old VSAC rival Tennessee Wesleyan at 7 p.m. Coverage on the Eagle Sports Network starts at 6:45 with the AEC Countdown to Tipoff on The Mountain 106.3 (WPFT-FM, Sevierville) and online at cneagles.com/live.