MARS HILL, N.C. - The Mars Hill women's basketball team were downed by Limestone Tuesday evening by a score of 97-73 inside Stanford Arena. Gabby Gianikos paced the Lions' offense with her season-high 15 points.
An explosive performance in the final quarter, Gianikos was a perfect 4-4 from the field and 5-5 from the free throw line for a team-high 13 points. It was the most scored by one player in a quarter for either team. Limestone's large lead held firm despite the freshman's impressive offensive display. The Lions entered the quarter trailing 81-46.
The Saints pounced early, jumping out to a 10-2 lead less than two minutes into the contest. Aliya Ruffin scored her fifth point of the opening three minutes to extend the Saints lead to 10 before three straight baskets from the Lions pulled the game within three at 12-9. A three-pointer from Mariah Johnson and two jump shots knocked down by Sheena Johnson and Baylea Loven cut the Saints lead for a short bit, but Limestone's potent offense would go on a 16-0 run to close out the first quarter. Jasmine Richardson scored three straight three-pointers and the last nine points of the first frame for the Saints.
Richardson opened the second half with two consecutive layups to extend her point streak to 11 straight for Limestone before two free throws from Maddie Webb put it to a halt. The Saints' offense persisted, but with less than seven minutes to go in the half, the Lions would go on a 10-2 run to pull within 15 points. Brooke Vilcinskas, in her season debut, had eight of the 10 points with two made three-pointers and two free throws. With just under three minutes left in the second quarter, the Saints would begin a 13-2 run to close out the first 20 minutes.
Limestone led 53-27, shooting over 55 percent in the first half. Richardson posted 20 points, going 7-12 from the field. Vilcinskas led the Lions with eight points heading into the half.
The Lions would be outscored once more in the third quarter, 28-19 with Ruffin going 3-5 from the field with a team-leading seven points. The teams would trade baskets up until the midway point of the quarter with Mars Hill holding a 12-10 edge. Limestone, with less than five minutes remaining in the quarter, would being a 17-7 run to head into the final 10 minutes with a 25 point lead. Sheena Johnson led Mars Hill with nine points in eight minutes of play in the third.
Richardson finished the contest with a game-high 23 points followed by Ruffin's 14. Keidra Smith had a double-double for the Saints with 10 points and a game-high 10 rebounds. Taylour Hunter led all players with seven assists and added six rebounds along with 11 points.
Gianikos also led the Lions in assists with four. Webb pulled down seven rebounds and chipped in offensively with four points. Vilcinskas ended the contest with 10 points.
The Lions fall to 1-5 while Limestone improves to 3-1.
Mars Hill returns to action on Wednesday, November 29 when they head to Carson-Newman to open up South Atlantic Conference play. Tip-off is scheduled for 6 p.m.