HICKORY, N.C. – The Lions lost to Lenoir-Rhyne 79-64 in South Atlantic Conference men's basketball action Saturday evening in Shuford Gymnasium. Mars Hill fell to 3-20 overall and 1-15 in the league. The Bears improved to 10-13 on the season, 8-9 in the SAC.
Justen Hartfield and Austin Gilyard led the Lions offensively scoring 12 points apiece. Gilyard added five rebounds and six assists. Brandon Watkins scored eight points and pulled down the same number of rebounds in the contest. Mars Hill shot 46.8% (22-47) from the floor, 33.3% (6-18) from three-point range and 70% (14-20) from the foul line.
Djibril Diallo led the Bears with 18 points followed by Darius Simmons with 15 markers. Bertrand Awana and Mason Hawks rounded out the double-digit scorers for L-R with 11 points apiece. The Bears connected on 50% (28-56) of their field goals, 43.8% (7-16) of their shots from behind the arc and 76.2% (16-21) of their free throws. The Bears outrebounded the Lions, 31-27. L-R scored 27 points off Mars Hill miscues.
After L-R jumped out to a 9-0 lead when Awana scored inside with 17:06 left in the first half, Mars Hill went on a 16-2 run capped off by a layup from Gilyard with12:11 left in the first frame to give the Lions a five-point advantage (16-11). The next five minutes of play saw two ties and five lead changes before Mason Hawks gave the Bears the lead for good at the 7:21 mark when he scored in the paint to make the score 21-20 in favor of the Bears. L-R would lead by as many as nine points on two occasions in the first period before going into the locker room ahead 37-31 at the intermission.
The Bears started the second half on a 13-5 run to enjoy a 14-point lead (50-26) with 15:03 left on the clock after Awana hit a layup. A 10-5 run by the Lions trimmed the deficit to nine points (55-46) after Gilyard hit a jumper with 10:05 left in the second stanza. Unfortunately, that was as close as the Lions would get down the stretch. The Bears sealed the win by outscoring MHU 14-4 over the next five minutes (4:42) to lead by 19 points (69-50) after Simmons nailed a three-pointer. The Bears held on to win by 15 points (79-64).
Mars Hill will play at Southern Wesleyan on Monday, February 12. Tip-off is set for 7 p.m.