Gilyard's strong second half pushes Lions past Southern Wesleyan

Gilyard's strong second half pushes Lions past Southern Wesleyan

CENTRAL, S.C. - The Mars Hill men's basketball team (4-2) picked up their fourth straight win in the 76-67 victory over Southern Wesleyan (0-6) on the road Tuesday evening.  Both Ja'Shawn Brooks and Austin Gilyard had 19 points to lead all scorers.

The Lions entered the second half trailing 39-31 and would trail throughout the first six minutes of the second half before a Gilyard three-pointer would provide the Lions a 49-47 edge with 13:18 remaining in the contest.  Prior to the shot, the Lions were on a 6-0 run to pull within one.  Mars Hill closed out their 11-0 run at the 7:31 mark of the half with Gilyard scoring the first nine of that streak.  Gilyard, who entered the half with only two points, exploded offensively in the final 20 minutes with 17 points.

Mars Hill would not relinquish the lead, however, the Warriors were persistent throughout the half, never falling behind by more than six points for the remainder of the contest.  With just over two minutes remaining, the Lions held a four point lead until a made three-pointer by Jalen Lowery pulled Southern Wesleyan within one.  The Lions held firm in the waning moments and hit all eight free throw opportunities in the final 1:11 of the game, including six made by Brooks.

Lowery carried the load for Southern Wesleyan in the second half, scoring 15 of the team's 28 points.  

The opening eight minutes of the contest was a back and forth affair between the team with seven lead changes in the first 8:22.  The Warriors, on a three-pointer by Jeremy Wert, would take the 16-13 lead and keep the Lions from overtaking them until the final 8:17 of the half where a basket by Matthew Powell gave Mars Hill the 19-17 edge.  The lead was short lived however as Southern Wesleyan scored 12 of the next 14 points to go up 29-21 with under five minutes left in the frame.  The Warriors would hold the Lions to a double-digit deficit for a majority of the remaining minutes until a buzz beating three-pointer by Brooks pulled the Lions within eight heading into the half.

Brooks and Nassyr Daniel led Mars Hill with eight points apiece in the first half.  Diego Poore matched the output for the Warriors in the opening 20 minutes.

Lowery finished with a team-high 15 points and added three assists.  Wert and Christian McLean chipped in 10 points each for the Warriors.  

Daniel ended the contest with 12 points and six rebounds.  Austin Stone led all players with nine rebounds on the night.  Gilyard and Brooks also led all players with four assists apiece.

Mars Hill opens South Atlantic Conference play on Saturday, December 1st when they head to Newberry to take on the Wolves.  Tipoff is scheduled for 4 p.m.