BANNER ELK, N.C. – The Lees-McRae College men's basketball team rallied from an early double-digit deficit to knock off Carson-Newman by a score of 103-101 in its season opener Friday evening at Williams Gymnasium. It marks the first time the Bobcats have begun a season 1-0 since the 2013-14 season.
The Bobcats started slowly against the Eagles as the latter scored the first 12 points of the contest. After the Bobcats took a timeout to regroup, they rebounded in a major way. Lees-McRae rattled off a 14-0 run to pull in front of Carson-Newman in the middle of the first half. A major key in the comeback was the play of Kamil Williams who netted 19 points in the first half alone to lead the charge. With Williams and the rest of the Bobcats clicking, Lees-McRae held a 58-48 lead on the Eagles going into the break.
Trailing by 10 points after 20 minutes of action did not seem to faze Carson-Newman. The Eagles shot an impressive 69 percent from the field to close the Bobcat lead down to the slimmest of margins. Lees-McRae's lead got down to as little as one point with a little under six minutes. The two teams continued trade buckets with the gap never getting larger than a few possessions. After an Andrew Gardner made free throw made it 103-101 Bobcats, the Eagles had a chance to either win the game or force it into overtime but their final shot attempt rimmed out to seal the exciting victory for the Bobcats.
Williams finished the night as the leading scorer for the Bobcats with 21 points. Four other players finished in double figures as well with Gardner posting 17 points followed by 13 from Quay Kimble and finally 12 from Jerick Haynes. In addition to his 17 points, Gardner also collected a team-high 12 rebounds in the victory.
The Bobcats will be back in action on Saturday when they host UVa-Wise in the final game of the Conference Carolinas/South Atlantic Conference Challenge. Tip-off is scheduled for 4 p.m. from Williams Gymnasium.