Johnson’s big night helps Eagles grab win
Carson Newman’s Jared Johnson throws a wrap-around pass on Saturday night at Holt Fieldhouse. Johnson led the way with 27 points in the victory.
JEFFERSON CITY — Jared Johnson couldn’t walk. After the final horn sounded in Carson-Newman’s 98-89 win over South Atlantic Conference rival Newberry Saturday night, Johnson just collapsed on the court, his legs too cramped to move.
“Jared is one of the guys on this team that takes it all so seriously,” C-N coach Chuck Benson said. “He’s a relentless worker and works year-round to improve his game. I’m so happy that he gets to have a game like this against this opponent. Newberry has a way of rattling opponent guards and for him to come out against that kind of pressure and have this kind of game, I’m thrilled.”
Johnson scored 27 points against the Wolves (12-4, 8-4 SAC), knocked down seven rebounds and distributed six assists. Those numbers outdo all of Johnson’s career performances against Newberry combined.
“I knew that and more importantly he knew that,” Benson said. “And he handled that pressure. To know he didn’t have a solid history against them and to come out here and do what he did, it speaks volumes to his toughness.”
The victory over the Wolves was a big one for the Eagles (11-5, 8-4). It puts them back in a tie for second place in the SAC and, more importantly, erases a bad loss to Tusculum (2-16, 1-11) on Wednesday.
“I felt really good today,” Johnson said. “We dropped a tough one on Wednesday so we came in here focused. I gave my team my all and it kind of fell in my favor.”
Johnson wasn’t the only Eagles player feeling good. Ishmael Sanders scored 25 points and dished four assists of his own. Sanders’ four three-pointers in the game put him just one away from tying the all-time SAC record. Antoine Davis scored 16 points and grabbed nine rebounds and Sawyer Williams had 10 points and six rebounds.
“My team works very hard,” Johnson said. “They move around and get into open spaces and I just try to do my job and find them and get them the opportunities. And they’re shooting the ball great. They make it easy for me.”
And Newberry fell right into C-N’s trap, over-extending on Sanders and Davis and leaving gaping lanes for Johnson to capitalize on.
“I like to get inside the lane and get to the rim,” Johnson said. “We’ve got Ish and Antoine and if they don’t cheat off of them (on defense), I can get a big lane. I like to do my work inside.”
Carson-Newman led by as much as 18 points midway through the second half, but a few poor shot choices down the stretch allowed the Wolves to make the score closer at the end. Even with the mistakes, Newberry could only pull within four before the Eagles began building back their lead to close out the game.
“There was probably a three possession stretch there in the last minute where we attacked the rim and rushed a shot instead of just milking the clock,” Benson said. “We let it get a little closer than we would have liked, but we were able to settle and get to the free throw line and pull away.”
Newberry put four players in double figures, with a double-double on the stat sheet from Xavier Holmes. Holms had 16 points and 10 rebounds. Dondray Walker scored 18 and Demarkus Smith and Vincent Hicklin had 16 apiece.
C-N travels to Anderson (13-5, 8-4) next Wednesday for another second-place conference battle, then ends the week at Catawba (5-11, 5-7).
- By Adam Greene, Tribune Correspondent