MARS HILL, N.C. – The Mars Hill men's basketball team dropped a 76-68 decision to South Atlantic Conference rival Coker on Monday evening inside Chambers Gymnasium. The Lions dropped to 3-11 overall and 1-7 in the SAC, while the Cobras improved to 6-8 overall and 3-5 in the league.
Bennett Wilson led the Lions with a game-high 19 points to go along with his seven rebounds. Charles Moore chipped in 11 points, while Indiana Rotondo tallied 10 points. Makyle Wilkerson fell just short of his first career double-double, finishing with 10 points and nine boards. Dotson Griffin pulled down a season-high 10 rebounds.
Coker knocked down back-to-back threes to quickly jump out to a 6-0 lead, but Indiana Rotondo answered with a triple of his own to cut the lead in half with just over a minute and a half drained from the clock. Following the second bomb from Rotondo, Bennett Wilson bullied his way to the basket and kissed a shot off the glass to give the Lions their first lead (10-8) at the 16:57 mark of the opening half.
The next four-plus minutes became a frantic pace as both teams raced up and down the floor, trading basket-after-basket. CC opened a slim 26-21 advantage following a steal and layup by Jake Barrett with 10:38 remaining in the initial 20. From that point the speed of the game slowed down as both teams had trouble buying a basket.
With the score at 29-24 in favor of the guests, the Lions reeled off six consecutive points to take a 30-29 edge with three minutes to play before the half. The final 180 seconds was fairly even with Mars Hill taking a minimal 36-34 lead into the break. During the first half there were eight ties and nine lead changes.
The first six minutes of the second half belonged to Coker as they outscored the Lions 17-9, taking its biggest lead of the contest, 51-45. Mars Hill used a 15-10 run, capped off by a Wilson three-ball, to cut the deficit to a single point, 61-60 with 6:35 to go in regulation. Eight in a row for the Cobras expanded the lead to 69-60 with under four to play.
Mars Hill cut the deficit to 72-68 with 1:15 left, but that would be as close as they got, eventually dropping a tough contest by a final score of 76-68.
MHU finished the contest shooting 38.8% from the field (26-67), while Coker had a 47.5% clip from the floor (28-59). Mars Hill dominated the glass with a 47-33 mark, while also leading in points in the paint (34-28), second-chance points (15-9), fast-break points (14-10), and bench points (27-23).
Coker placed four players in double-figures, led by Jake Barrett's 17. JaQuez Motley added 13, while Roman Hall and Jalal Abdul Azeez chipped in 11 each.
The Lions will be back in action on Wednesday, January 11, playing host to SAC rival Tusculum. Tipoff for that contest is scheduled for 8 p.m.