A broken nose. A debilitating stomach virus. A variety of bumps and bruises.
The Queens Royals were battling more than just a determined opponent Monday night in a disheartening 87-62 South Atlantic Conference men’s basketball loss to Carson-Newman at Curry Arena.
Like a good coach shouldn’t, Bart Lundy didn’t blame illness and injury for his team’s fourth straight loss.
“I don’t want to use that as an excuse,” Lundy said. “They wanted it more than we did and they just worked us over inside.”
Junior guard Rob Lewis scored 24 points, including four 3-point goals. Griffin Shaw, a former Myers Park High standout who had missed all but one game this season with a torn ACL, took full advantage of a Senior Night start with nine points (three 3-pointers).
The Royals (14-12, 11-9) hit a healthy 10-of-22 from behind the 3-point arc, but those were among their few highlights. Queens trailed by 18 at halftime and couldn’t get any closer.
Queens, which was alone in second place two weeks ago, dropped into a fifth-place tie with Catawba (14-12, 11-9). The Royals now face a battle to earn a home first-round conference tournament game that seemed a sure thing not so long ago.
They will finish the regular season this week with games Wednesday at Catawba and Saturday at Anderson (S.C.).
“The only thing we can do is hurt over this game till midnight, get some rest and go back to work tomorrow,” Lundy said.
A strong inside game by the Eagles (14-12, 12-8), who shot almost 60percent from the field (34-of-57), made it a long night for Queens. Junior forward Carson Brooks hit 11 of 12 field-goal attempts on the way to a season-high 28 points, all but six points during the first half. Forward Sawyer Williams added 17 points and 14 rebounds.
“We didn’t put up much resistance when they went inside,” Lundy said. “We knew that was a strong point and we worked on defending the paint against them. Obviously, it didn’t do much good.”
The Royals, who trailed 44-26 at the break and by as many as 32 in the second half, shot 37.5percent from the field.
“The 3-pointers helped us,” Lundy said. “But we didn’t play great offense, and offense wasn’t really our problem.”
Notes: Shaw and senior guard Trey Ervin were recognized during a pregame ceremony. … Queens was missing 17 points a game worth of offense with the absence of junior guard Marquis Rankin, who broke his nose Wednesday against Newberry, and junior forward Jederian Jackson (stomach virus). … The game originally was scheduled for Saturday, but winter weather conditions prevented Carson-Newman from leaving its Jefferson City, Tenn., campus.