VIDEO: Chuck Benson Interview
VIDEO: Cam Andre Interview
JEFFERSON CITY, Tenn. – Carson-Newman (9-15, 6-12 South Atlantic Conference) got within five after rallying from a 23-point deficit, but didn't score in the final 6:57 as Catawba (18-6, 13-5 SAC) won its seventh consecutive game 74-61 Saturday afternoon at Holt Fieldhouse.
The Eagles held the Indians, league's second-highest scoring team, 15 points below their average and to their second lowest scoring output of the season.
However, the Eagles didn't have enough offense to overcome an eight-minute field goal drought spanning the halftime break and the six-minute scoring drought to close the game.
"We've got, at times on the floor, four and five first-year players on the court," Carson-Newman head men's basketball coach Chuck Benson said. "Catawba played no freshmen, no sophomores, one junior and the rest seniors. That experience showed. For us to be in a situation where we got down big and scrapped within five, I was very pleased with the response to the adversity that we were facing."
The Indians rattled off a 26-6 run spanning the halftime break to break free of a game that featured three ties and 10 lead changes in the game's first 15 minutes. The Indians built a 41-28 halftime lead before stretching the edge to 54-31 nearly four minutes into the second half.
The Eagles cranked through a 15-3 run that got the lead down to five with 7:40 to play on a fast break layup from Tripp Davis (Nashville, Tenn.). However, C-N would make just one more shot the rest of the way.
"Catawba, to be honest, did what we hoped they would do," Benson said. "They took high volume threes. If our contests been better, we probably would have been more impactful. At the same time, we limited them to 37 percent shooting, I'll take that every night. There were some positives. I'll take holding one of the most physical and talented teams in this region to 74 points.
"However, having said all that, when we came out of the timeout down five with six minutes left, our follow through and connection to go from what we were saying what we were doing in huddles to what we actually did. It boiled down to our inability to execute in a pressurized situation. There was a disconnect in what we wanted to do on their defensive strategy and what we actually ended up doing."
The Eagles held the Indians to their worst shooting percentage of the season. Catawba knocked down 37.1 percent from the field.
However, the Indians did knock down 14-of-38 threes. Marcell Haskett accounted for the majority of them. He went 8-for-16 from beyond the arc and finished with a game-high 26 points.
In comparison, the Eagles only shot 6-of-21 from beyond the arc.
In spite of making three more shots than Catawba, the Indians were able to make up that deficit by drilling eight more threes than the Eagles and by attempting 15 more free throws and making 11 more than Carson-Newman.
The Indians also outrebounded C-N by six, and had an 11-4 advantage in second chance points.
Wallace reset his career high with 17 points. He was 7-for-12 from the field and 3-for-5 from deep. EJ Bush (Oak Ridge, Tenn.) added in 13.
"I may have lost my mind," Benson said. "But I'm really upbeat after this one. Kaleb Wallace continues to evolve, Dima woke back up. There's a lot of positives to take away in spite of the loss."
Carson-Newman begins a three-game road trip with a visit to Tusculum Wednesday. Tipoff with the Pioneers is set for 7:30 p.m. Coverage on the Eagle Sports Network begins 15 minutes prior to game time with the AEC Countdown to Tipoff on The Mountain 106.3 (WFPT-FM, Sevierville) and online at cneagles.com/live.