JEFFERSON CITY, Tenn. – Despite a furious rally inside the final four minutes of the game, late first-half offensive struggles that carried over into the second frame proved costly, as the Anderson men's basketball team suffered its third straight setback with an 87-79 loss to Carson-Newman in South Atlantic Conference action, Wednesday night at Holt Fieldhouse.
With the Trojans trailing by 16 points with less than four minutes left in the game, senior guard Gage Ellis sparked the comeback by scoring seven straight points for AU, while senior guard Kevin Simpson sandwiched a pair of 3-pointers around a jumper by guard Andrew Boynton to pull the Trojans within six with just 47 seconds remaining.
AU climbed within six on two more occasions inside the final 29 seconds, but the Eagles were a perfect 8-of-8 from the free throw line in the closing moments to hold off the Trojans.
Anderson slipped to 8-7 overall and 2-5 in conference action, while Carson-Newman improved to 9-5 overall and 2-5 in league play.
INSIDE THE BOX SCORE
Senior forward Jeremy Bouton poured in a game-high 20 points and pulled down a game-high eight rebounds, while Ellis added 14 points – all in the second half. The senior from Greenville, S.C., also handed out a career-high four assists. Simpson finished with 13 points and a career-best five assists on the night. Senior guard Randall Shaw also netted 13 points, with junior guard Shawn Benard tallying nine points, four rebounds and four assists.
HOW IT HAPPENED
After Carson-Newman jumped ahead 5-3 with just a little more than a minute off the clock, the Trojan defense held the Eagles to just one 3-pointer over a four-minute span, while scoring eight unanswered points as part of a 13-3 scoring outburst that gave Anderson a 16-8 lead with less than 15 minutes left in the opening stanza.
The Trojans then went cold, as they misfired on seven of their next eight field goal attempts and enabled the Eagles to respond with nine straight points of their own as part of a 14-2 surge that gave C-N a 22-18 edge midway through the half.
Freshman Satchel Hester followed by sparked a brief run by AU that saw the Trojans regain a 25-24 lead at the 6:37 mark before the Eagles posted yet another 9-0 run as part of a 15-4 surge that built the C-N lead to double digits, at 39-29, with 1:19 on the clock. Bouton and Benard followed by combining for four consecutive free throws to pull AU within six, with the Eagles' Reece Anderson connecting on 1-of-2 from the line to set the halftime score at 40-33.
Carson-Newman scored the first eight points of the second half and opened up a 53-37 advantage with 15:44 left in the game. Shaw answered with five straight for AU and Benard capped a brief 7-0 surge that saw the Trojans slash the deficit to single digits with more than 12 minutes remaining, but Carson-Newman responded by building an 18-point, 67-49, cushion at the 7:44 mark.
The Eagles still led, 76-60, with 3:52 on the clock, when Ellis scored seven points in a 76-second span to ignite AU's rally.
• The game featured three ties and eight lead changes – all in the first half.
• Carson-Newman won the rebounding battle, 39-32.
• The Trojans have reached double-figure assists in five straight games.
The Trojans will wrap up their season-high four-game road swing by visiting Newberry, Saturday afternoon. Tip-off versus the Wolves at Eleazer Arena is scheduled for 4 p.m.