MURFREESBORO, Tenn. - The Mars Hill men's basketball team (1-1) fell to Middle Tennessee State (2-0) in exhibition play Wednesday evening by a score of 96-82.
The Blue Raiders opened the contest on a 6-0 run, eventually building their lead to 13-6 with just under four minutes played in the first half. The Lions clawed back into the contest, tying the game up on a 7-0 run, led by Austin Gilyard's five points in the run. Following a Middle Tennessee basket, Jamal Bryant's three-pointer with 14:42 left in the half provided the Lions their first lead of the contest.
The Blue Raiders went on a 12-0 run to build their lead to double-digits before Bryant's three-pointer with under 11 minutes to play ended the run. The teams continued to trade baskets throughout the remainder of the half with the Lions keeping the contest within single digits. Two free throws at the end of the half from Eli Lawrence sent Middle Tennessee State into the half with a nine point lead.
Bryant ended the half with 18 points followed by Gilyard's 11 in 18 minutes. Antonio Green led all players with 25 points in the first half.
Gilyard carried the Mars Hill offense in the second half, scoring 23 points, including three three-pointers.
Mars Hill opened the second half on a 13-6 run to pull within two points with under 17 minutes remaining in the contest. Just moments later, Nassyr Daniel's layup knotted the game up at 55. Following a foul, Gilyard's second free throw fell to give the Lions a 58-57 lead with just over 15 minutes remaining.
Middle Tennessee State responded with a 12-2 run to retake the lead and hold the 69-60 advantage with 12:56 left to play. The Blue Raiders maintained a double-digit lead for the remainder of the contest, leading by as many as 16 with 3:23 to play. Lawrence led the Blue Raiders with 11 points in the half.
Gilyard added nine rebounds to his game-high 34 points. Bryant ended the contest with 27 points and 11 rebounds for the double-double. Daniel added 11 points while Matthew Powell netted 10 points and collected eight rebounds.
The Lions return to action on Saturday, November 16 as they take to the road, facing off against North Greenville. Tipoff is scheduled for 3 p.m.