Eagles rally past Bobcats, 79-76

Box score

BANNER ELK, N.C. --- John Holleman (Petersburg, Va.) recorded a double-double with 20 points and a game-high 10 rebounds to lead the Carson-Newman College men's basketball team to a 79-76 come-from-behind victory over Lees-McRae College in non-conference action on Saturday afternoon in Williams Gymnasium.

Carson-Newman (3-6) shot 45.6 percent from the floor on the afternoon, including a blistering 57.7 percent clip in the second half, while Lees-McRae (3-5) posted a 43.3 percent mark from the field, including an even 50 percent in the final 20 minutes. The Eagles edged the Bobcats on the glass by a 39-36 margin, including a 31-23 advantage on the defensive boards.

Leading the way for the Bobcats was senior Adam McFerran (Stow, Ohio), who poured in a game-high 26 points on 10-of-20 shooting, while nearly missing a double-double with a squad-best nine rebounds. Daniel Sepokas (Illawong, Australia) and Tevin Friday (Gastonia, N.C.) joined McFerran in double figures with 15 and 10 points, respectively, as Sepokas chipped in a game-high four steals. Dairl Scott, Jr. (Pfafftown, N.C.) added eight points and five rebounds, while Reshon Benjamin (Valdosta, Ga.) also dished out a team-high five assists for the Bobcats.

Holleman paced the Eagles with 20 points on 6-of-9 shooting, while pulling down 10 boards and converting each of his eight free throw attempts. Antonio Sullivan (Louisville, Ky.) joined Holleman in double figures with 16 points, while Ishmael Sanders (Cleveland, Tenn.) and Collin Crane (Knoxville, Tenn.) chipped in 11 and 10 markers, respectively. Sanders also dished out a game-high eight assists, while Kevin Hare (Lexington, S.C.) posted a contest-best two blocks.

Lees-McRae started strong, scoring the game's first 10 points before Carson-Newman responded, launching a 10-5 run to cut the lead to 15-10 on a Crane layup with 10:27 to play in the half. The Bobcats answered with a spurt of their own, opening their largest lead of the game at 30-14 with a McFerran triple at the 6:52 mark, on the heels of a 15-4 run. Carson-Newman would charge back, closing the half with a 17-6 run surge to cut the margin to 36-31 at the intermission.

The Eagles would carry the momentum into the second half, slowing chipping away at the lead until they charged forward with a 12-4 spurt midway through the period, taking their first lead of the game at 52-51 on a Sullivan triple with 11:28 to play. After Carson-Newman pushed the lead to 56-51 with a pair of quick baskets, the Bobcats answered, launching a 6-0 spurt to reclaim the advantage at 57-56 on McFerran's jumper with 9:21 left on the clock.

Carson-Newman would answer with a 7-0 spurt of its own, opening its largest lead of the game at 63-57 with 6:57 to play on a Holleman jumper. Lees-McRae refused to give in, battling back to take a 66-65 lead on a Scott layup at the 5:09 mark.

The Eagles answered with a 9-2 run to reclaim the advantage and push the lead to 74-68 with less than two minutes to play, capping the spurt with a Holleman layup at the 1:44 mark. Lees-McRae would exercise exceptional clock management over the next minute and a half, cutting the lead to 77-76 on a clutch three-pointer by Sam Youse (Winston-Salem, N.C.) with 13 seconds to play.

Sullivan would connect on both free throws after the resulting Bobcat foul, pushing the lead to 79-76 and forcing LMC into another three-point situation. After the Eagles forced an ill-timed Bobcat miscue, Lees-McRae returned the favor, as Sepokas picked off the inbound attempt at midcourt with three seconds left. Carson-Newman would hold on for the narrow victory, as the Bobcats' tying attempt fell short as time expired.

- LMC -