CULLOWHEE, N.C. – Mars Hill lost a non-conference men's basketball contest at NCAA Division I rival Western Carolina 87-71 Saturday afternoon in the Ramsey Center. The Lions fell to 3-8 on the season while the Catamounts improved to 5-8 overall.
Vernon Jackson and Luke Van-Rijn led the Lions offensively scoring 12 and 11 points, respectively. Mars Hill did not shoot well in the game connecting on only 34.4% (21-61) of their field goal attempts and 24% (6-25) from behind the arc.
Ashley Williams led the Catamounts with a game high 24 points followed by Adam Sledd with 16 points and eight rebounds. WCU hit 57.6% (34-59) from the floor and 44.4% (8-18) from three-point range. The Catamounts scored 44 points in the paint and outrebounded MHU, 40-34.
Williams nailed a three-pointer with 18:50 left in the first half and the Catamounts would lead from wire to wire. A made free throw by Williams extended the Catamounts lead to 14 points (18-4) with 13:15 left in the opening period. Mars Hill closed out the first half outscoring WCU 29-17 to head into the locker room at halftime down by only two points (35-33).
WCU went on a 7-2 run to lead 42-35 with 17:42 left in the second frame. The Lions answered outscoring the Catamounts 15-10 over the next five minutes of play to cut the deficit back to just two points (52-50) after Van-Rijn hit a three-pointer. Unfortunately for the Lions, WCU scored 10 unanswered points to jump back out to a 12-point lead (62-50) after Sledd scored inside. Mars Hill cut the Catamounts' advantage to just six points (70-64) with 4:19 left in regulation after Charles Moore hit a three-pointer but that was as close as the Lions would get. In the final minutes of the contest, WCU went on a 17-4 run to seal the win and enjoy their largest lead of 19 point in the game (87-68) with 43 seconds on the clock. A three-pointer by Andrew Barber with 28 ticks left made the final score 87-71 in favor of the hosts.
Mars Hill will return to action on Saturday, December 31, when they host SAC foe Carson-Newman. Tip-off in Stanford Arena is set for 4 p.m.