VIDEO: Chuck Benson Interview
VIDEO: Cam Andre Interview
JEFFERSON CITY, Tenn. – Carson-Newman (2-3) coughed up 17 turnovers and only shot 57.7 percent from the free-throw stripe in an 80-78 loss to Southern Wesleyan (3-2) Wednesday night in Holt Fieldhouse.
In spite of the free-throw woes and ball security issues, Carson-Newman still had two chances to tie or take the lead in the final 15 seconds. However, both possessions for the Eagles ended in giveaways.
Jaylan McGill (Charlotte, N.C.) cut a five-point deficit to what would be the final margin on a second-chance triple from the head of the key with 41 seconds left. C-N forced a tough fadeaway from Clenzo Ross on the left side of the lane that he left short with 17 seconds left.
EJ Bush (Knoxville, Tenn.) grabbed the board and got the ball up the floor to Reece Anderson (Douglasville, Tenn.). The senior knifed down the left side of the lane, but got called for a charge for the Eagles' 16th turnover.
C-N fouled SWU's Solomon Smith on the inbounds. The Queens transfer went 0-for-2 on his trip. Luke Brenegan (Brentwood, Tenn.) boxed out the shooter to grab the rebound, but got backtapped by Ta'Jay Dunlap on his way up the floor. C-N couldn't recover the loose ball and time expired with the Warriors in front 80-78.
The end result obfuscated a pair of runs that turned the tide. C-N trailed by seven late in the first half. In spite of having three starters in foul trouble, the Eagles rattled off a 10-0 run spanning the halftime break to take a 48-40 lead 2:05 into the second half on a Tripp Davis (Nashville, Tenn.) jumper.
However, the Warriors countered with an 18-3 spurt over the next 3:30 that saw them take their biggest lead of the game at 60-52 with 12:44 left on a pair of Dunlap free throws.
"I thought we were hurt in the first half by foul trouble," Carson-Newman head men's basketball coach Chuck Benson said. "Having said that, we still got it to halftime with a lead. I was pleased with our response. I really thought going into half we had learned a lesson. Then the second half came and we struggled. We struggled to hit free throws, we couldn't take care of the ball. Some of that credit goes to SWU. They played with resilience and determination. They threw some good punches at us."
The loss denied C-N a bid to score 100 points or more for a third straight game for just the seventh time in program history.
The Eagles shot 36.7 percent from the field in the second half (11-for-30). In spite of the shooting struggles, C-N kept close thanks to rebounding. The Eagles outrebounded the Warriors by 21, 47-26. C-N had 23 offensive rebounds and 29 second chance points.
"We showed that we lacked poise to force SWU to defend multiple actions," Benson said. "We got a little too caught up in trying to make a play, instead of letting our execution create a play. Our execution was really poor. For the most part in this young season, I'd been pleased with our execution. For it to be as subpar as it was today, that's disappointing, but it's also something we can use as a teaching tool to have a determined, disciplined response. Our communication was weak on the offensive end, and that'll get you. We've got some work to do going into conference play now, that's for sure."
McGill and Brenegan paced C-N with 14 and 12, respectively. They were the only two Eagles in double figures. However, C-N had six players with at least seven points. Bush came close to a third double-double with nine points and eight boards.
Dunlap had a game-high and efficient 22-point night to lead all scorers for SWU. He was 6-for-8 from the field, 3-for-4 from three and 7-for-8 from the stripe.
Smith added in 19 points and seven rebounds.
"We need challenges for this team to maximize growth," Benson said. "Some of these challenge that are painful in the moment like this, I hope we can process correctly and let us help evolve into the best team we can be."
C-N breaks for six days before opening SAC play with Lincoln Memorial Nov. 26 inside Holt Fieldhouse at 7:30 p.m. Coverage will be available on the Eagle Sports Network 15 minutes prior to tip with the AEC Countdown to Tipoff on The Mountain 106.3 (WPFT-FM, Sevierville) and online at cneagles.com/live.