MARS HILL, N.C. – The Mars Hill men's basketball team came out strong early in the contest against No. 2. Queens, but ultimately fell 93-64, Saturday evening in Stanford Arena. Austin Gilyard tied his career-high with 23 points.
The Lions pounced early on the Royals, opening the contest on a 4-0 run. Queens answered back with four straight to tie the contest before a basket from Austin Gilyard retook the lead for Mars Hill with just over four minutes played in the first. Coming back from the timeout, Nassyr Daniel scored his fourth point of the half to regain the four point lead. Queens would take six of the next seven points to take their first lead of the afternoon.
The Royals held a 20-13 advantage halfway through the first half. Gilyard would strike again, scoring back-to-back 3-pointers to pull within one point. Both teams would trade baskets in the final ten minutes before a 6-0 run would give the Royals an eight point edge as Todd Withers drained consecutive 3-pointers.
Withers entered the half with 11 points, shooting 75 percent from beyond the arc. He also led the team with seven rebounds. Daniel Carr caused issues in the backcourt for the Lions, forcing five steals and chipping in eight points.
Gilyard went 4-of-5 from the field and led the Lions with 12 points. Daniel pulled down eight rebounds and was 3-of-5 from the field for seven points. The team went 4-of-8 from three-point range compared to the Royals' 5-of-17.
Queens opened the second half in the lead, 38-32 against the valiant Lions' squad.
Despite the impressive first 20 minutes from the Lions, Queens was able to establish their offense and run away with the contest less than five minutes into the second stanza. Leading 53-39, the Royals and Lions traded points, keeping the contest within 11 points with just over 10 minutes to play. The Lions would concede 13 of the next 17 points and find themselves down by 20 with 8:09 remaining in the contest.
Down the stretch, the Royals would lead by as many as 26 with 5:03 left in the contest, with Withers, Carr and Ike Agusi leading the charge. The Lions were unable to bring the lead below 20 points and fell by a final score of 93-64, the largest lead of the night.
Withers finished with a team-high 18 points and shot 70 percent from the field including 4-of-6 from beyond the arc. Carr and Agusi each had 12 points as the other double-digit scorers for the Royals. Agusi added seven assists on the night.
Vernon Jackson scored 11 points for the Lions and pulled down three rebounds. Cody Hylton was 2-of-3 from the field, including two made 3-pointers. Justen Hartfield had seven points and two assists on the evening.
Queens remains unbeaten, improving 15-0 (7-0 SAC) while Mars Hill falls to 2-12 (0-7 SAC).
Mars Hill heads to Newberry to take on the Wolves on January, 8 with a 6 p.m. tip-off.