JEFFERSON CITY, Tenn. – The home standing Carson-Newman Eagles used hot shooting to outpace the Anderson men’s basketball team, as the Trojans opened a two-game road swing with an 87-79 setback in South Atlantic Conference action Wednesday night at Holt Fieldhouse.
Anderson (18-7, 13-6 SAC) slipped to third in the conference standings and had its’ two-game win streak halted. Carson-Newman (17-6, 14-5 SAC) claimed sole possession of second place in the league standings with its sixth straight victory and managed a split of the regular-season series, while improving to 13-1 at home on the season.
With three games remaining on the league’s regular-season slate, the SAC tournament field has been set, as Brevard, Mars Hill, Tusculum and Catawba have been eliminated from the postseason tournament, while the remaining eight teams are battling for seeding in the event.
“I am very proud that we did not quit,” said Anderson head coach Jason Taylor. “I am also very proud of the group of guys that went in in the second half – that was a huge positive. We’ll get better.”
The Trojans were out-rebounded, 36-33, on the night, marking the first time in 11 contests that Anderson lost the battle of the boards. Carson-Newman shot 56.4 percent on the night – the highest accuracy for a Trojan opponent this season – and out-scored AU 42-18 in the paint.
Guards Chandler Hash and Myson Jones shared team-high scoring honors, as each netted 22 points on the night. With his effort, Hash moved into third place on AU’s scoring list and now has 1,354 career points. Jones’ scoring output matched his career high, while the junior also dished out four assists. Senior guard CJ Gleaton added 10 points and a team-best seven rebounds, while senior forward Kyle Sledge handed out a career-high six assists.
Carson-Newman forward Antoine Davis, the reigning South Atlantic Conference Player of the Year, led all scorers with 29 points, while guard Ishmael Sanders added 22. Sophomore forward Carson Brooks posted a double-double with 10 points and 13 boards, with freshman forward Sawyer Williams tallying 10 points.
Jones led the Trojans early, sandwiching a pair of 3-pointers around a jumper from Williams to give Anderson an early 6-2 advantage and his two free throws at the 16:48 mark, followed by a short jumper from junior center Chris Ross boosted the lead to 12-7 – marking the Trojans’ largest lead of the contest.
But the Eagles rattled off six straight points and took their first lead of the contest, at 13-12, on an inside basket off the glass from Williams. The Carson-Newman lead was brief, however as Gleaton answered on the other end with his first 3-pointer of the night from the left wing to regain the lead for the Trojans, at 15-13, with 14:05 on the clock.
But the Eagles countered with a 17-5 run over the next 6:46 to jump out to a double-digit, 30-20, advantage, with Davis leading the way for Carson-Newman. AU’s Nick Jackson and Hash combined for five unanswered points for the Trojans to trim the deficit to just five, but the Eagles responded with a 9-2 run to take their largest lead of the opening 20 minutes, at 39-27.
Anderson closed the half with a 13-3 outburst behind Jones’ three 3-pointers to trim the deficit to just 42-40 at intermission.
But it was as close as the Trojans would get, as the Eagles opened the second stanza on a 12-3 surge to claim a 54-43 lead with less than 16 minutes remaining in the game. Carson-Newman went on to build a 70-49 cushion at the 8:50 mark, but the Trojans steadily chipped away at the deficit and battled back within 83-77 with 21 ticks on the clock. The Trojans sent Carson-Newman to the line six times in the final moments, with the Eagles sinking four to hold on for the win.
Anderson wraps up its two-game road swing at Coker on Saturday at historic Timberlake-Lawton Gymnasium. The Cobras will be looking for a sweep of the season series after edging the Trojans, 83-81, earlier this season at the Abney Center. Tip-off is set for 4 p.m.