ASHEVILLE, N.C. - The Mars Hill women's basketball team battled tough against defending Big South champion UNC Asheville, ultimately falling by a score of 71-60 in Friday evening's exhibition. Baylea Loven led the Lions with a double-double consisting 21 points and 10 rebounds.
Mars Hill's fresh new look came out of the gates jumping to start the game, taking an early 7-5 lead. Sheena Johnson scored the first two points of the season for the Lions, followed by a three-pointer by Shaigna Wentz.
The Bulldogs would go on a 13-7 run to close out the first quarter. Juliet Esadah and Khaila Webb led the way offensively with eight and six points, respectively, as the Bulldogs headed into the half with a 38-28 lead. Esadah added nine rebounds in 11 first half minutes.
Johnson led the Lions in scoring with eight points after the first half, shooting 2-for-2 from three-point range. Baylea Loven added six points and three rebounds.
Mars Hill was outrebounded 23-10 in the first half. The Lions were four-for-five from behind the arc in the opening 20 minutes.
Despite Mars Hill's best efforts, the Bulldogs were able to keep a double-digit lead up until the final three minutes of the contest. The Lions pulled within nine points twice in final minutes, both times with a Loven layup.
The Lions were outscored in every quarter except the fourth, coming away with a 21-18 advantage. Mars Hill also downed the Bulldogs in field goal percentage (41.1), three-point percentage (45.5) and free throw percentage (69.2).
Ali Trani had a team-high 19 points for the Bulldogs, going 11-of-24 from the field, including three three-point buckets. Esadah ended the contest with a game-high 18 rebounds.
Sheena Johnson and Mariah Johnson each ended the game with 13 points. Sheena went 3-for-4 from behind the arc while Mariah knocked down all four of her free throws. Wentz and Gabby Gianikos each had one block.
The Lions are in action next Friday, November 10 as they take on King in Greeneville, Tennessee as part of the SAC/Conference Carolinas Challenge. Tip-off is scheduled for 1 p.m.