MARS HILL, N.C. – The Mars Hill men's basketball team (8-11) defeated Southern Wesleyan (2-20) to sweep the season series by a score of 77-70 inside Stanford Arena Wednesday evening.
The teams started out evenly, matching each other every step of the way through the first 8:20 of the half. The game was tied at 16-all before the Warriors began to pull away, going on a 5-0 run to lead 21-16 with 8:03 remaining in the half.
Mars Hill answered back with six straight points to take a short lived 22-21 lead. Jalen Lowery scored five straight points for Southern Wesleyan to go up 26-22 with less than five minutes remaining in the opening frame.
Trailing 32-31, the Lions closed out the half by scoring five points in the final five seconds. Dotson Griffin drove the lane, converting on the layup and subsequent free throw after being fouled on the shot. On the ensuing Warrior inbound pass, Javonte Cook stole the ball and laid it in as the buzzer sounded to give the Lions a 36-32 lead after 20 minutes.
Hartfield led the Lions with 10 points, shooting 4-of-6 from the floor, including two three-pointers. Lowery paced Southern Wesleyan's offense with 10 points as well, also hitting two three-pointers.
The Lions opened the second half on a 7-2 run, however, the Warriors once again strung together a 5-0 run to keep the deficit to four points. The lead remained in single digits until the 9:18 mark of the second when a Ja'Shawn Brooks three-pointer gave Mars Hill a 54-44 lead.
Coming out of a media timeout, the Warriors scored five straight points to cut the lead in half, but three straight Lions' points kept the oncoming Warriors at bay.
Mars Hill held their largest lead of the night with under 4:30 to play, up 65-54 after a Justen Hartfield layup. Southern Wesleyan threatened late, cutting the Lions lead to five points with 20 seconds left in the game, but clutch free throw shooting from Brooks, hitting all four attempts in the final moments of the contest, sealed the 77-70 win.
Both Lowery and Javon Hunter scored 17 apiece for the Warriors, while Zalan Richards added 10 points and a team-high eight rebounds. Hartfield led the Lions' balanced scoring attack with 17 points while adding five rebounds. Cook finished the contest with 14 points and tied Nassyr Daniel and Brooks with six rebounds.
The Lions jump back into South Atlantic Conference play on Saturday, February 2nd when they travel to take on the Cobras of Coker College. Tipoff is scheduled for 4 p.m.