Eagles hold off late rally to win at Catawba, 73-69
SALISBURY, NC – The Carson-Newman Eagles built a 21-point first half lead and held off a furious Catawba rally in the second half to beat the Indians, 73-69, on Saturday afternoon in Goodman Gymnasium. The win is the Eagles' first at Catawba since the 2001-2002 season.
With the win, C-N improves to 12-8 overall and 5-5 in the SAC, while the Catawba Indians fall to 5-13 and 2-8. The Eagles also win conference games and back-to-back road games for the first time this season.
Carson-Newman held off the Indians rally as Catawba cut the lead to two points with under a minute to play. The Eagles went 4-of-4 at the line and got a driving layup from Antoine Davis to pick up their first season sweep of the Indians in a decade.
"I'm not sure if we believed in ourselves late," Eagle head coach Chuck Benson said after the win. "We came out a little flat and relaxed in the second half, but Antoine (Davis) made some big plays for us late and we made our free throws to ice it. I thought we overcame some mental mistakes down the stretch too. To sweep Catawba and win here for the first time in a long time, this is a step forward against a quality program."
The Eagles used a 12-2 run, getting three-pointers from Antoine Davis (Rustburg, VA) and Ishmael Sanders (Cleveland, TN) sandwiched around a pair of buckets from Kevin Leatherwood (Charlottesville, VA), to go up 25-12 after nine minutes of action. Another three-pointer from Sanders pushed the margin to 40-20 with four minutes left in the half and a basket by Jared Johnson (Springfield, MA) gave C-N its biggest lead of the game at 42-21.
Carson-Newman connected on 57% in the opening half, including a 7-of-11 effort from behind the arc. Catawba managed to hit on just eight of 33 shots (24%) and were out-rebounded 25-15. Sanders had 11 at the break, while Corbin Jackson (Rockledge, FL) nearly had a double-double with nine points and nine rebounds. Keon Moore (Colerain, NC/Bertie HS) kept the Indians as close as they were with 13 points and Catawba also committed just three turnovers in the half.
Catawba cut the lead to nine several times midway through the second half, but the Eagles would answer. Sanders delivered a three-point play to up the margin to a dozen with 12 minutes left and Davis hit a basket and canned a three-pointer at the 7:09 mark for a 61-47 edge. The Indians made a final push in the last four minutes.
Stuart Thomson (Poynton, ENGLAND/Poynton) had a dunk then a three-pointer at the 3:22 mark to close the gap to 65-62. Tyrece Little (Greenville, NC/Rose HS) and Justin Huntley (Mooresville, NC/Mooresville HS) was able to twice pull Catawba within two points, but after Huntley's basket with 30 seconds remaining, Collin Crane (Knoxville, TN) and Sanders converted a pair of free throws to thwart the comeback bid by the Indians.
Sanders finished with 21 points to lead Carson-Newman. Davis added 14 points and seven boards, while Jackson had his double-double with 13 points and 10 rebounds. Moore led all scorers with a game-high 25 points for Catawba. Thomson added 15 points, while Little and Huntley each added a dozen. Moore also led the Indians with nine rebounds.
After a poor shooting first half, Catawba canned 56% in the final half to just 37% for Carson-Newman and cut the rebounding deficit to just six, but could not quite catch up. The Indians finished with nine turnovers, while Carson-Newman committed 17 miscues.
Carson-Newman returns to action on Wednesday night against Brevard. Tipoff is at 8 p.m. in Brevard, N.C.