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GREENVILLE, S.C. - With Carson Brooks' double-double of 13 points and 10 rebounds and Charles Clark's 23 points, second-seeded Carson-Newman captured the 2015 South Atlantic Conference Tournament championship with a 63-48 upset of top-seeded Lincoln Memorial Sunday afternoon at Timmons Arena.
With the victory, the Eagles earn the automatic bid into the NCAA Tournament and the Southeast Regional, while the No. 3 ranked Railsplitters will likely claim one of the region's five at-large bids when the NCAA Tournament bracket in announced at 10:30 p.m. on NCAA.com.
Carson-Newman claims its first SAC Tournament championship since the 2001-02 season and wins its third conference tournament in program history. The Eagles enter the NCAA Tournament with a 17-13 record, with two of their wins coming over LMU this season, marking the Railsplitters' lone setbacks of the year.
Clark and Brooks combined for 36 points and 57.1 percent of C-N's scoring on the afternoon, as teammates Mason Bates added nine points and Sawyer Williams recorded eight points. The trio of Brooks, Williams and Josh Rogers pulled down 10 rebounds apiece, as the Eagles won the battle underneath the boards, 51-31.
For LMU, Keenan Peterson was the only Railsplitter in double figures with 10 points, while Tim Pierce and Gerel Simmons recorded nine points apiece. Lincoln Memorial (29-1) shot 35.1 percent (20-for-57) from the floor, but fired a 2-for-14 mark (14.3 percent) from behind the 3-point line.
The Eagle offense started strongly as they scored the first 10 points of the contest. With the scoring drought, LMU did not find the scoreboard until the 13:29 mark when Emanuel Terry sank a pair of free throws. With the lead, Carson-Newman jumped out to a pair of 12-point leads with just under 10 minutes left.
With the Eagles leading by 10 with 7:38 left, LMU began to chip away at the deficit and cut the score to one with an 11-2 run before taking its first lead at 23-22 with a Luquon Choice jumper with 4:14 remaining. The Railsplitter lead was short-lived, as the second-seed scored the next six points and sealed a first half lead. LMU's Pierce buried a jumper to set the halftime score at 28-25.
Peterson scored inside the C-N paint to open the second half, but Carson-Newman scored the next four points and maintained its lead for the remainder of the contest. The advantage grew to double figures with just over 12 minutes left when Brooks chipped in a jumper and pushed the score to 39-29.
With the score at 47-38, the Eagles went on a 6-0 run to put the game out of reach, eventually taking their largest lead of 19 with 1:38 remaining. Despite Lincoln Memorial scoring the final four points of the day, it was not enough as Carson-Newman earned the 63-48 victory.
SAC All-Tournament Team
Charles Clark, Carson-Newman
Carson Brooks, Carson-Newman
Gerel Simmons, Lincoln Memorial
Keenan Peterson, Lincoln Memorial
Marquis Rankin, Queens
Charles Clark, Carson-Newman