JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. – The Lions' men's basketball team lost an exhibition game to NCAA Division I opponent East Tennessee State University 104-67 Saturday afternoon at Freedom Hall.
Bennett Wilson led the Lions with a game high 18 points followed by Valentin Bauer with 12 points. Wilson was 7-10 from the floor and pulled down three rebounds. Brandon Watkins added eight points and three boards. Mars Hill shot 42.6% (23-54) from the floor in the contest.
For ETSU, Devontavius Payne scored a team-high 17 points and Hanner Mosquera-Perea added 14 points and five rebounds. A.J. Merriweather and T.J. Cromer collected 14 and 11 points, respectively, while Desonta Bradford dished out a game-high six assists without a turnover.
The Lions made it interesting as the first half was a scoring fest for both teams. The Bucs shot 59 percent from the field and 42 percent from beyond the arc in the opening 20 minutes. Meanwhile, the Lions were equally on target, posting a 56 percent clip from the field and 50 percent mark from 3-point range. The result was a 51-43 halftime score.
In fact, Mars Hill led much of the first half and held a 35-28 advantage with 7:28 left before the intermission. At that point, Payne scored 10 of the Bucs next 14 points to spark a 14-2 ETSU run and take the lead at 42-37. The Bucs ultimately outscored Mars Hill 21-8 over the last seven minutes of the half and enjoyed a 51-43 cushion into the break.
After the intermission, the Bucs came outscored MHU 16-4 to open the half and lead 67-47 with just under 16 minutes left in regulation. The ETSU advantage ultimately grew to as many as 38 by the end of the game.
For the contest, the Bucs were 16-of-16 from the foul line and out-rebounded Mars Hill, 32-27. The Lions connected on 71.4% (15-21) of their shots at the free throw line.
Mars Hill will open regular season play next weekend when they host the South Atlantic Conference/Conference Carolinas Challenge Tournament. Mars Hill will play Belmont Abbey in the first round on Friday, November 11 at 7:30 p.m.