MARS HILL, N.C. - The Mars Hill men's basketball team (2-4) was defeated by a score of 107-95 versus Lees-McRae (4-1) in their 2019 home opener Saturday afternoon.
Mars Hill burst out the gates early with two three-pointers made by Matthew Powell and Ja'Shawn Brooks to open up a 6-0 lead with 1:26 played in the first half. The Bobcats responded with a 19-2 run, taking a 19-8 lead with 12:29 remaining in the half. Kamil Williams led the Bobcats with five points in the run.
Following a brief Lions' 3-0 run, Lees-McRae reeled off seven straight points, four from Jason Saintizaire, to build a 16-point lead. With 3:59 left to play in the first half, the Lions found themselves down by 23 before clawing their way back into the contest. Back-to-back dunks from Nassyr Daniel and Javonte Cooke were the catalyst for a Mars Hill 10-4 run to pull within 18 with less than a minute to play. Austin Gilyard's buzzer-beating jumper cut the deficit to 19 at the end of the first half.
Jerick Haynes led all players with 13 points off the Lees-McRae bench. Both Saintizaire and Andrew Gardner added 10 points. Powell and Cooke led the Lions with eight points apiece.
Both Brooks and Gilyard led the Lions' offense in the second half, each recording 21 points and hitting all nine free throw attempts.
Mars Hill started the second half hot, opening on a 10-0 run to pull within nine before the Bobcats responded with a 7-0 run to rebuild their double-digit lead. With under 10 minutes to play, Mars Hill trailed 80-64 before narrowing the gap once again. The Lions brought the contest to within 10, going on an 11-5 run. Closing the gap further, Brooks' three-pointer followed by Cooke's jumper with 4:25 left in the game cut the deficit to seven.
Back-to-back three-pointers from London England quieted the Lions' crowd, putting Lees-McRae up 93-80, however, a resilient Lions' team strung together another 5-0 run to cut the Bobcats' lead back down to single digits.
The valiant Lions' effort fell short as Lees-McRae picked up their fourth win versus a South Atlantic Conference school by a mark of 107-95.
Quay Kimble led the Bobcats with 15 points in the half, going 5-of-7 from the floor. Gardner added 13 while England chipped in 11 second half points.
Brooks led the Lions with 28 points and added six rebounds and a team-high three steals. Gilyard netted 26 to go along with his three assists. Cooke ended the contest with 12 points and a team-high seven rebounds.
The Lions open up SAC play on Tuesday, November 26 when they take on the Cavaliers of UVa-Wise. Tipoff at Wise is set for 7:30 p.m.