DII basketball: Carson-Newman's Charles Clark notches 54 points, triple-double in big win
JEFFERSON CITY, Tenn. – Charles Clark (Murfreesboro, Tenn.) put together one of the greatest performances in the history of Carson-Newman (18-10, 15-7 South Atlantic Conference) basketball en route to a 120-91 pulverization of Coker (8-20, 5-17 SAC) Saturday afternoon at Holt Fieldhouse.
Clark reset both the Carson-Newman and South Atlantic Conference single-game scoring records with a 54-point, 11-rebound, 12-assist — a triple-double. He surpassed Ish Sanders' 51 points against Mars Hill in 2011 for the program record and Lenoir-Rhyne's RJ McLure and his 52 points against Anderson in 2014 for the SAC record.
"I was just taking what the defense gave me," Clark said. "They gave me open people, and I found them. They gave me some drivers, I found them. They gave me some open shots, and I was able to knock them down. I thank Shane Williams, Ray Likely and the Shot Factory for getting us in here and helping us knock stuff down."
The junior guard was 16-for-27 from the field and 7-for-14 from 3-point range. He canned 15 of his 16 free-throw attempts on the day.
"I don't know how he does it," Benson said. "This whole thing started a couple weeks ago when I asked him to get a triple-double. The thing about this night is that we honor our seniors. He told me he'd be ready today. Obviously, his definition of ready is to go out and do the unbelievable. This is his evolution into greatness."
Clark also breaks Chris Jones' 56-year-old Carson-Newman record for points in a half. Clark had 36 in the second, besting Jones' 33 from a 1961 game against Emory & Henry.
Clark's bonkers night overshadowed a number of top-flight efforts for the Eagles.
"There were other guys who had incredible performances, but Charles was just stupefying," Benson said. "Sawyer gets a double-double in front of his entire hometown on senior day. Malik goes for a quiet 25. Shaun Jones only has 16 rebounds. Those are incredible performance. Charles was on another planet. What he was doing wasn't real."
Sawyer Williams (Owenton, Kentucky) celebrated a happy senior day with his seventh double-double of the season. He had 24 points and 11 rebounds. Malik Abraham (Snellville, Georgia) added in 25 points and seven rebounds. Abraham was 7-for-14 from the field. The trio of Clark, Williams and Abraham outscored Coker's whole team, 103-91.
Carson-Newman led 48-32 at the halftime break after limiting Coker to 30 percent shooting for the first half. In the second stanza, the pace of play notched up 10-fold, allowing for Clark's antics to occur.
The Eagles outscored the Cobras 72-59 after halftime — nearly the most points in a half in school history. The 1988 team dropped 83 against Tusculum in a half.
Clark kept getting stronger as the night wore on. He had the triple-double in hand after he grabbed a rebound on a Stafan Osborne missed three with 3:21 to play. The question then became where he would land with his scoring effort.
A 3-pointer with 96 seconds left from the left corner put him at 49. A mere 20 seconds later, Clark got open on the right wing and knocked down his seventh trey of the day to best Sanders' C-N mark, and tie McClure's SAC record.
A possession later, he helped work the ball around to Malik Abraham for a three. The top moment came with 34 seconds left when he Euro-stepped down the right side of the lane, cut past Nathan Lemke and finished off the right-hand side of the rim to pass McClure and set the final margin at 120-91.
The Eagles handed out 30 assists for the game, one off the school record. The Eagles outrebounded the Cobras 56-35. C-N had three players with at least 10 rebounds (Jones 16, Williams and Clark with 11) for the first time since the 2015 South Atlantic Conference title game.
Jake Barrett led four double-digit scorers for Coker. He had 21 and went 4-for-6 from 3-point range.
The Eagles will open up South Atlantic Conference tournament play Wednesday in a four-five matchup with Newberry. Tipoff with the Wolves is at 8 p.m.