This ought to shake up a few pollsters.
The Maryville College men’s basketball team won the inaugural “Battle on the Hill” Tuesday night., knocking off NCAA Division II rival Carson-Newman, 87-80, at Boydson Baird Gymnasium.
It marked the second time in as many seasons non-scholarship Division III Maryville had brought down the high-flying Eagles. The Scots upended Carson-Newman, 74-65 only a season ago.
“That was big game for us,” Maryville coach Randy Lambert said. “I hope that gets us a little attention. This team deserves some recognition.”
It was a game of two halves for the victorious Scots (5-0), who built an advantage as big as 27 points in the opening half. Maryville scored 51 points the first 20-minutes, shooting 54 percent from the field, 50 percent (5-of-10) from beyond the arc. A stingy defense forced 25 Carson-Newman turnovers for the game and limited the Eagles to 34 percent shooting.
Maryville led 51-27 at halftime.
“We obviously played as good as we could play in the first 20 minutes,” Lambert said, “and they (the Eagles) were flat.”
After the break, Carson-Newman shot picked up the tempo the closing 20 minutes. Pouring in 53 points after the break, the Eagles cooled Maryville’s first-half eruption to 36 points in half two.
“I knew they’d come after us in the second half,” Lambert said. “I was just hoping we could hang on.”
The Eagle was thwarted when Maryville senior Jonathan Johnson hit a key 3-pointer with just over a minute remaining, opening the Scot lead 73-66.
“I came off a double screen and it was wide open,” the William Blount High School product said. “I kind of forgot the play and it popped in my head. I didn’t have my feet set. I probably looked awful when I shot it.”
To Maryville senior Alex Bowers, it was a thing of beauty.
“J.J. knocked it down,” he said. “It was a huge shot, a back breaker.”
Bowers delivered the biggest in the closing minutes when he got to the basket off the drive to hand deliver an assist to Greg Hernandez, whose layup with 2 minutes, 56 second remaining boosted Maryville lead’s to 77-68.
“We got an easy basket and everybody could relax a little,” Bowers said.
Maryville then drained key free throws inside the final minute to seal the seven point victory.
Bowers, the reigning Great South Athletic Conference Player of the Week, pumped in a team-best 17 points in the win. Chris Orr had a solid game in the paint with 11 points and six rebounds. Johnson, Eryk Watson and Andrew Shumate rounded out the leading scorers for Maryville with 10 points each. Shumate paced Maryville on the boards with seven rebounds.
Carson-Newman (3-1) used a strong double-double performance from Bobby Guyton to make if a fight in the second half. Guyton finished with 13 points and a team-leading 11 rebounds, with Darren Williams leading all scorers on the night with 18 points on 7-for-10 shooting.
Jordan Dixon and Jesse McMurray added 16 and 12 points, respectively, for Carson-Newman..
The Scots will travel to Atlanta, Georgia on Saturday to take on NCAA Division III foe Emory University.
Carson-Newman 61, Maryville 46 (women)
Former Maryville women’s basketball coach Dean Walsh directed the Lady Eagles to victory in the opener.
“It’s really different,” Walsh said of his first visit to Boydson Baird since leaving for Carson-Newman in 2001. “I knew what to expect. I knew the crowd would be involved. I’ve been on the homeside quite a bit. On the visitor’s side of it you just have to tune it out. I thought our girls did a decent job with that.”
The Lady Eagles (3-4) outrebounded the Scots (4-2) by a 56-29 margin that included 24 Carson- Newman offensive rebounds.
“We always go in thinking we can win. We wanted to be as close as we could for as long as we could but you have to rebound to do that,” Maryville coach Jeff Pardue said. “Giving up 24 offensive rebounds will get you beat by anybody.”
Carson-Newman pulled away from a 27-22 halftime margin with a slew of second-chance points to start the second half. Lauren Fleming answered with her sole 3-pointer of the game to cut the margin back to four, but a 13-2 run by Carson-Newman made it 42-29 at the 12:50 mark and the Scots couldn’t close the deficit.
“Against a team like that our top nine have to be on their best game and we didn’t have that,” Pardue said. “The positive about it is we saw some things from some players about what they can do. Rachel Draper (team-high 10 points) and Colleen McConnell played hard and showed something.”
Scots leading scorer Katie Saxe was limited to eight attempts and finished with eight points and 10 boards. Angela Volentine and Ashley Tipton netted 11 each for Carson-Newman.
Maryville travels to Emory on Saturday, returning home to host Transylvania Dec. 15 at 5 p.m. in a doubleheader with the men.