MARS HILL, N.C. - The Mars Hill men's basketball team dropped a 75-69 decision to Anderson Wednesday evening in Stanford Arena. Bennett Wilson led all players with 21 points.
With the game tied at 66 with 1:18 remaining, a free throw make by Vernon Jackson put the Lions up 67-66 late in the second half. The Trojans responded by going on a 4-0 run to hold a 71-67 lead with under a minute remaining in the contest. Gage Ellis hit all four free throws to give Anderson the advantage. Wilson would hit a layup with 36 seconds remaining in a last gasp effort for the Lions, but four straight free throws from Anderson sealed the Lions' fate.
Mars Hill opened the contest on a 7-3 run with Luke Van-Rijn scoring five of the points. The Lions would hold a 9-7 lead until back-to-back layups from Rakish Taylor and Ellis gave Anderson their second lead of the game with 13:44 left in the first half. Nassyr Daniel and Wilson scored four straight points to regain the Mars Hill lead, but Anderson answered with a 6-0 run to hold a four point lead with 7:40 left in the opening frame.
The Lions battled back, responding with a 7-0 run and taking nine of the next 11 points to lead 22-19 with 5:20 remaining. Mars Hill would lead for the remainder of the half, entering halftime up 33-31.
Wilson led the Lions with seven points. Daniel, Van-Rijn and Brandon Watkins each had five points. Daniel and Justen Hartfield collected three rebounds. Ellis had nine points to lead all players after 20 minutes of play. Taylor and Josh Livingston each chipped in six points. Lester Rochez and Maurice Howard led Anderson with five rebounds apiece.
The teams would trade the lead back and forth in the opening five minutes of the second half with Anderson being able to pull away 46-41 with 12:50 left in the contest. A resilient Lions' squad reeled off six straight points to take a 47-46 advantage before Anderson struck back with four consecutive points to retake the lead.
Trailing by five once again, the Lions were kept at bay for much of the latter stages of the half. With 3:34 left in the contest, Mars Hill was able to tie the game at 61 with a Watkins' tip-in basket. Twenty-six seconds later, two made free throws from Jackson gave Mars Hill the two point edge heading into the final three minutes of the game.
Jackson and Hartfield each finished the contest with 13 points. They led the team in rebounds as well, pulling down seven and eight, respectively. Ellis led the Trojans with 16 points followed by the 13 point outputs of Taylor and Jeremy Bouton, who went 9-of-10 from the free throw line.
Mars Hill drops to 4-21 (1-16 SAC) while Anderson moves to 8-17 (6-11 SAC).
The Lions hit the road Saturday, February 17 to take on No. 2 ranked Queens in Charlotte. Tip-off is scheduled for 4 p.m.