BRISTOL, TENN. – Senior guard Paige Chavis tallied a game-high 26 points and Sydney Comer knocked down a corner three with just under a minute to play to lead the Mars Hill women's basketball team to a thrilling 71-70 win over Lees-McRae during the opening day of the SAC/Conference Carolinas Challenge Friday night inside the Student Center Complex.
The Lions took control early in the contest, racing out to a 7-3 lead. However, the Bobcats showed poise and battled back to take the lead on a 9-0 run, capped off by a shot from downtown by Breana Hardnett. Chavis was able to bury consecutive threes to give MHU the lead back at 13-12, but a layup by the Bobcats ended the first quarter with LMC up 14-13.
That lead grew to 17-13 following a bomb by Taylor Fluette to open the second stanza. After trading the next four points, Mars Hill reeled off eight straight to flip the score in favor of the Lions at 23-19. A back-and-forth affair would ensue as neither team wanted to give an inch. The Lions led at the intermission by a slim margin of 33-31.
Consecutive three-pointers by Madison Ervin and Chavis to open the second half fueled a brilliant 11-1 run to build the Lions' lead to 44-32 halfway through the third. With the score at 50-39, Lees-McRae collected six of the next nine points to cut the deficit to 53-45 heading into the final frame.
Chavis started the fourth with a fast break layup to send the lead back to double-digits before the Bobcats ripped off a massive 16-2 run, regaining the lead at 60-57 with just under six minutes left in regulation. Comer knocked down a three and Jenny Edwards connected on a layup and foul shot to give the Lions the lead at 63-61.
However, LMC would not go quietly, taking the advantage right back (64-63) with a long range shot by Markia Stacey. Just 18 ticks later, Chavis drilled a three of her own, sending the Lions bench into a frenzy. With the score knotted at 68-all and a minute to play, Chavis found Comer in the corner and the southpaw showed she had ice in her veins, drilling a three to put the Lions ahead for good. Lees-McRae dropped in two shots from the charity stripe to make the final score 71-70 in favor of the Blue and Gold.
Mars Hill shot 42.6-percent (26-61) from the field, while holding Lees-McRae to just 39.4-percent (26-66). The Lions connected on 8-of-18 from the three-point line and went 11-18 from the free throw line. Aliyah Farmer chipped in 17 points during the winning effort.
The Lions will take on host King University tomorrow in the final day of the conference challenge. KU dropped Tusculum 86-63 in the opening game of the day. Tipoff is scheduled for 2 p.m.