SPARTANBURG, S.C. – The Mars Hill men's basketball team dropped a non-conference contest against Division I USC Upstate on Monday evening inside the Hodge Center. Upstate used a first half of long runs to upend the Lions 91-66. Mars Hill dropped to 1-2 overall, while USCU improved to 1-1.
Vernon Jackson led all scorers with a game-high 22, shooting 7-for-16 overall and 3-for-5 from distance and barely missed a double-double, pulling down a team-high nine boards. Luke Van-Rijn chipped in 18 with five triples. Valentin Bauer was the facilitator on the evening with a game-high 11 dimes.
Deion Holmes led USC Upstate with 21 points, while Ramel Thompkins pulled down a game-high 13 rebounds.
Upstate started the contest with a 12-0 run, forcing an early timeout by the Lions coaching staff. A 6-2 spurt from the Lions closed the gap to 14-6, but four straight and 12 of the next 14 from the Spartans pushed the lead to 26-8 with just under 11 minutes to play in the opening half.
That score ballooned to 57-24 going into the half thanks in part to a closing run of 31-16. The Lions were cold from the floor in the first half, hitting only 9-of-43 shots (20.9%), while Upstate connected on 21-of-38 (55.3%), including eight triples. Jackson contributed 11 of the 24-first half points, knocking down two shots from long range.
Mars Hill came out with new energy to start the second half, outscoring the Spartans 8-5 over the initial two and a half minutes of the frame, forcing a timeout from the home bench. Van-Rijn sparked the push with a couple three balls, one from each corner.
That spark continued for the remainder of the contest as the Lions outscored the Spartans by a score of 42-34. Mars Hill shot an impressive 15-of-32 in the last twenty minutes to bring what was a dismal performance in the first half to 32% for the game.
The Lions will return to Stanford Arena on Saturday, November 19, playing host to Warren Wilson College. Tipoff for that contest is scheduled for 2 p.m.