MARS HILL, N.C. – Freshman guard Justin Hartfield poured in a career-high 25 points, but it was not enough as the Lions came up on the losing end of a close 83-79 contest against the visiting Newberry Wolves on Saturday afternoon. The Lions dropped to 4-18 overall and 2-14 in the South Atlantic Conference, while Newberry improved to 13-9 overall and 8-8 in the SAC.
Charles Moore joined Hartfield as the only other Lion to record double figures, chipping in 14. Valentin Bauer filled the stat sheet with nine points, six boards, and five assists in the losing effort. Dotson Griffin tallied six points and a team-high eight rebounds. Mars Hill shot a respectable 46.7% (28-60) from the floor and 20-of-22 (91%) from the charity stripe.
The Lions held advantages in points in the paint (42-36), points off turnovers (18-14), fast break points (10-2), and bench points (52-39). Newberry outrebounded Mars Hill by a total of 40-31. Both teams turned the ball over 18 times and the score was tied 11 times, while changing hands a total of nine times.
It took two and a half minutes for either team to find the basket in the opening half as Bennett Wilson made a driving, contested layup to get the scoring started. MHU built a small 8-4 advantage, but a quick five from Newberry gave the Wolves their first lead (9-8) at the 13-minute mark. A highly competitive game ensued as Mars Hill built its biggest margin (18-13) with 10:32 remaining in the first half, but NC reeled off seven in a row to retake the lead 20-18.
Collin Hartman drilled a three-ball to give the Blue and Gold a 26-23 lead and the Lions stretched that margin to four points (38-34) heading into the locker room, following a personal 5-0 run by Hartfield to end the first 20.
After Newberry took a 39-38 lead early in the second half, a back-and-forth affair took place with neither team able to separate from the other. With the score 67-65 in favor of the Wolves, Newberry built its largest lead of the game (73-65) with 4:24 remaining in regulation. Mars Hill pulled to within two on four different occasions over the next four and change, but that would be as close as it would get, eventually dropping the contest 83-79.
Marshall Lange led all scorers with a game-high 26 points, while James Stepp (10) was the only other Newberry player to record double figures in scoring. Quaman Burton tallied nine points and a game-high 10 rebounds for the Wolves, who shot 42.4% (28-66) from the floor.
Mars Hill will return to action on Wednesday, February 8, traveling to Brevard to take on the Tornado. That game is scheduled to get underway at 8 p.m.