The Queens men’s basketball team is making history. And Saturday afternoon they made that look really easy.
Sophomore guard Todd Withers led four double-figure scorers as the Royals, ranked No. 17 in NCAA Division II, extended the program’s best start with an 85-63 rout of Carson-Newman in front of 750 fans at Curry Arena.
So what’s the secret to the big success?
“When something’s not going for us, we always try to find another way to make it happen,” said Withers, whose 10 first-half points sparked Queens to a 16-point halftime lead that ballooned to as many as 34 in the second half. “We share the ball and play shutdown defense and lots of different people step up.”
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Guard Rob Lewis scored 13 points, former Vance standout Marquis Rankin added 11 and junior reserve forward Jared Hendryx added 10 points after senior starter Sean Morgan encountered early foul trouble. Morgan scored nine, all in the second half.
The Royals (9-0, 5-0 South Atlantic Conference) got only the briefest of challenges from the Eagles (4-5, 0-3), led by guard Charles Clark’s game-high 21 points (four 3-pointers).
Queens scored the first nine points on the way to a 12-2 lead, but Carson-Newman rallied and grabbed its only lead at 25-23 with 7 minutes, 15 elapsed on Clark’s three-point play.
But the Royals outscored the visitors 21-5 in the final seven minutes of the half to take a 46-30 advantage.
“It’s always a numbers game with Carson-Newman. They’re a big, strong team who can beat you up a little bit,” Queens coach Bart Lundy said. “We were able to turn them over some and get some easy points out in transition.”
He said the contributions of Withers and Hendryx were examples of what has been going right for the Royals.
“This is the most dedicated group I’ve had,” Lundy said. “They work hard. The fact that Sean Morgan played four minutes of the first half and we still dominated points in the paint was something.”
The Royals will host Warren Wilson in a nonconference game at 7 tonight at Curry Arena. Queens will close the 2015 portion of the schedule with a 4 p.m. game next Saturday at Mars Hill.