MARS HILL, N.C. – Austin Gilyard's clutch free throws with under one second remaining ended the Mars Hill men's basketball team's 10-game losing streak to give the Lions a 78-77 upset win over Carson-Newman in Stanford Arena Wednesday night.
A technical foul called on Carson-Newman with 0.6 seconds left in the contest sent Gilyard to the line, trailing 77-76. The freshman, who shoots just under 90 percent from the line, hit both free throws for his only points of the game to give the Lions their first conference victory of the season.
With under four minutes remaining in the contest, the Lions fouled Shaun Jones after a made layup to knot the game at 72 all. His free throw make gave the Eagles a late lead in the second half. Nassyr Daniel's layup pushed the Lions ahead 74-73 with under two minutes to play. Jones returned to the line with 1:27 remaining in the contest, hitting both from the charity stripe to give Carson-Newman the 75-74 advantage.
Senior Luke Van-Rijn opened the scoring in the second half, accounting for the Lions' first six points. With 16:28 remaining in the game, the Eagles were able to knot the game at 45 all with a layup from Parker Role'. His next basket would give the Eagles a 47-46 lead with just over 15 minutes to play.
Carson-Newman would extend their lead to five following a layup and made free throw for the three-point play by the leading scorer in the South Atlantic Conference, Charles Clark. Buckets by Malik Abraham and Mason Bates gave the Eagles a 7-0 run before a layup from Justen Hartfield cut the lead to four. Van-Rijn and Abraham exchanged 3-pointers on ensuing possessions for the teams. The Lions trailed 57-53 with just over 11 minutes remaining in the contest.
Mars Hill's offense started the game off strong, led by Bennett Wilson and Nassyr Daniel. Each had six points in the first few minutes as Mars Hill held a 21-20 lead. The teams traded buckets throughout the opening 12 minutes with no team having a lead larger than six. With 8:27 remaining in the half, the Lions led 28-25, paced by Daniel's 10 points. Carrying a 39-33 lead into the final two minutes, the Lions conceded four straight points to cling to a two point advantage heading into halftime. Mars Hill capitalized off of Carson-Newman turnovers, scoring 12 points on seven turnovers.
Van-Rijn was 2-of-4 from beyond the arc, finishing the half with eight points and three rebounds. Wilson and Brandon Watkins each had three assists. The Eagles were led by Shaun Jones and his 11 points in the first 20 minutes. He also collected a team-high four rebounds in the opening frame.
Van-Rijn ended the game with a season-high 22 points, one shy of tying his career best. Daniel chipped in 12 points and collected a team-high seven rebounds. Wilson added 12 points, seven assists and four rebounds.
Jones led all players with 28 points, going 11-of-14 from the field and pulled down six rebounds. Clark and Bates each had nine points on the evening.
Mars Hill improves to 3-16 (1-11 SAC) to snap their 10-game skid. Carson-Newman falls to 16-4 (8-4 SAC).
The Lions return to action Saturday afternoon with a SAC contest against Newberry. The game is scheduled for a 4 p.m. tip-off.