Flawless first half helps C-N trump Tennessee Wesleyan

Flawless first half helps C-N trump Tennessee Wesleyan

VIDEO: Chuck Benson Interview

VIDEO: Mason Bates Interview

VIDEO: Highlights

JEFFERSON CITY, Tenn. – Bolstered by its best half of the season, Carson-Newman (3-6) coasted to a 98-74 thumping of former VSAC rival Tennessee Wesleyan (5-6) Saturday afternoon at Holt Fieldhouse.

The Eagles closed the first half on a 35-4 run as the Bulldogs endured a seven minute stretch without a field goal as the Eagles turned a narrow 19-15 margin into a 54-21 halftime lead. 

"There were two things that happened," head coach Chuck Benson said. "One is that we were making shots and getting good lucks.  At the same time, they, for whatever reason, seemed unmotivated, uninterested and even unresponsive at times. Now we can't control that, but we were certainly able to take advantage of that."

C-N's 54-point first half outburst marks the most points the Eagles have scored in a half, while the Bulldogs' 21 are the second fewest the Eagles have allowed in a half this season.

A Mason Bates (Cookeville, Tenn.) three sparked the run for the Eagles with 10:04 left in the first half.  Carson-Newman would proceed to drain 12 of its next 17 shots while Tennessee Wesleyan missed 11-of-12 down the stretch.  The Eagles also forced seven turnovers during that timespan.  Carson-Newman had 20 points off 13 TWC turnovers at the break, converting 77 percent of Bulldog miscues into points.

Tennessee Wesleyan would cut the deficit to 16 in the second half on the strength of nine straight made threes, however, the Eagles wouldn't let the Bulldogs get any closer than 20 over the game's final 8:08. 

"You never want to go into the half like that up that big," Benson said. "The question then becomes if your team is able to have the poise to handle that prosperity. We weren't able to handle that and once again, it was a tale of two halves for us."

The 24-point win for C-N is tied for the second largest margin of victory over the Bulldogs in the series' 86-game history.

For the first time since a win in 2011 over Newberry, the Eagles had six players finish in double figures.  Jared Johnson (Springfield, Mass.) led the charge with 16 points; he was matched by Josh Rogers (Bristol, United Kingdom) who equaled his career high with 16, as well.  Bates reset his career high with 14 points to go along with six boards, a team-high four assists and two steals.

Carson Brooks (Knoxville, Tenn.) chipped in 13 points, while Sawyer Williams (Owenton, Ky.) and Charles Clark (Murfreesboro, Tenn.) each added 10.   

"Guys capitalized on opportunities today," Benson said. "When styles make fights, we're more comfortable with teams pressing temp. We felt going into this game, it would play to our benefit if they tried to speed us up. That's what happened and kids scored as a result."

The Eagles dished out 20 assists on 28 made shots. It marked the first time the Eagles had 20 assists or more in a game since dealing out 23 helpers in a win over Newberry last January.

Tennessee Wesleyan was led by Justin Simmons 15 points.  The Eagles held leading scorer Devante' Jenkins to six points and two rebounds. He entered the game averaging 14.8 points and 12.9 rebounds per game.

Carson-Newman shot 49 percent from the floor and connected on 8-of-20 three pointers, good for a 40 percent clip.  

The Eagles also sank 34-of-45 free throws, the third most free throws made in a game in school history. 

C-N outrebounded the Bulldogs 41-26. 

The Eagles hit the road for their final game before the Christmas break Wednesday with a road trip to Charlotte and Johnson C. Smith. Tipoff with the Golden Bulls is slated for 7 p.m. with pregame coverage on the Eagle Sports Network at 6:45 p.m. with the Appalachian Electric Cooperative Countdown to Tipoff on Mountain Country 106.3 (WPFT-FM, Sevierville) and online at cneagles.com/live.