MARS HILL, N.C. – The Mars Hill men's basketball team lost a non-conference contest to Virginia State on Saturday afternoon inside Chambers Gymnasium. The Trojans were able to control the Lions throughout the entire contest, leading to a 96-68 victory.
Vernon Jackson led the Lions with 15 points, while Justin Hartfield and Valentin Bauer reached double-digits as well with 12 and 10 points, respectively. VSU outrebounded the Lions by a total of 36-25, while forcing 22 Mars Hill turnovers. For the game the Lions shot 49.1% (27-55), but Virginia State burned the nets with a magnificent 59.4% (41-69), including 10-of-22 from downtown. The Trojans held advantages in the paint (44-40), off turnovers (35-13), fast break (12-0), and bench points (41-22).
The Trojans used the long ball to power out to a 10-4 lead early in the first half, connecting on two of their first three attempts from behind the arc. However, an old-fashioned three-point play from Van-Rijn trimmed the deficit to a single possession with just under 16 to play. Virginia State used an 11-3 run over the next several minutes to run its lead to 21-10 at the 12:37 mark.
That lead increased to 36-18 as turnovers plagued Mars Hill in the first half. VSU was able to collect 25 points off 15 Mars Hill turnovers in the first 20 minutes of play, taking a comfortable 54-31 lead into halftime. Virginia State was able to build the lead behind 8-of-13 from the three in the first half, while also shooting 63-percent from the field (22-35). Jackson led the charge offensively for the Lions with nine first half points.
As a team the Lions shot 48-percent on 11-for-23 in the opening half. VSU held a slight 16-12 advantage on the boards, including 10 of the offensive variety. Mars Hill knocked down 9-of-12 from the free throw line for 75-percent.
Virginia State came out in the second half and built its biggest lead of the afternoon (69-43) following a basket in the paint. From that point the teams went on a seesaw battle, trading basket-for-basket over the next six and a half minutes. With the score at 78-52, VSU ripped off 10 of the next 14 points to balloon the lead to 88-56 with 5:36 to play. The Trojans closed the game with a 96-68 victory.
Richard Granberry led all scorers with a game-highs of 16 points and six boards. Every Trojan player was able to score a point during the contest. Waymond Wright and Trey Brown led VSU with seven assists each.
Mars Hill will continue its schedule on Tuesday, November 29 as it travels to Spartanburg, S.C. to face Division I opponent Wofford in an exhibition contest. Tipoff for that contest is scheduled for 7 p.m.