Eagles rally from 15-point deficit to edge Bobcats, 68-62

BANNER ELK, N.C. --- Odell Parker scored 18 points in the second half to help the Carson-Newman College men's basketball team overcome a 15-point halftime deficit en route to a hard-fought 68-62 victory over Lees-McRae College in non-conference play on Monday evening in Williams Gymnasium.

Carson-Newman (1-0) shot 41 percent from the floor on the night, including a 48.3 percent clip in the second half, while holding Lees-McRae (0-2) to a field goal percentage of 30.8 percent in the final 20 minutes. The Eagles edged the Bobcats by a 38-37 margin on the glass, including a 26-24 advantage on the defensive boards, while converting 22-of-33 attempts at the free throw line.

Daniel Sepokas (Illawong, Australia) led the way for Lees-McRae with 19 points on 6-of-11 shooting, knocking down his first four three-pointers while hauling down a team-high six rebounds. Asad Lamot (Mebane, N.C.) added 14 markers and game-highs of six assists and four steals, as DJ Brown (Anderson, S.C.) chipped in 11 points with a trio of three-pointers.

Parker paced all scorers with 25 points, including 18 in the second half, while connecting on 8-of-16 attempts from the floor and grabbing a game-high 10 rebounds to post a double-double. Antoine Davis added 21 points on 9-of-15 shooting while chipping in six boards and three assists.

The Bobcats responded to an early 12-9 deficit with an 11-0 run, taking a 20-12 advantage with 8:54 to play following a lay-in by Gideon Oji (Imane in Koji, Nigeria) and a clutch four-point play by Will Lopez (Sydney, Australia). After Brown knocked down a triple and Corey Young (Bluff City, Tenn.) drained a trifecta of his own just over a minute later, Lamot buried a three-pointer with 2:50 left in the half to push the lead to 35-22.

Lees-McRae would take a 39-24 advantage into the intermission, capping the half with a Lamot lay-in before a pair of Eagle free throws cut the lead back to 15 with less than a minute on the clock. The Bobcats continued to dictate the tempo in the early moments of the second half, pushing the lead to 48-31 on a Sepokas three-pointer and freebie before Carson-Newman responded with a 12-0 run to cut the margin to 48-43 following a triple by Marcellous Perez.

Sepokas responded for the Bobcats, knocking down back-to-back rainmakers from downtown to push the lead to 54-43 with 10:25 to play. Carson-Newman would counter with an 8-2 run to cut the gap to 56-51 following a pair of Parker free throws.

After Sepokas answered with a steal and a bucket, the Eagles responded with a 10-4 surge to take their first lead since the 11:26 mark of the first half following a Davis jumper, giving Carson-Newman a narrow 61-60 lead with 1:17 to go. Jeremiah Henry (Semmes, Ala.) would even the tally at 61-61 with a freebie 30 seconds later before Davis converted a key three-point play with 34 ticks left to give the Eagles the decisive advantage.

Lees-McRae returns to the court on Wednesday when the Bobcats travel to Salisbury, N.C. to take on Catawba College in non-conference play at 7 p.m.

- LMC -