MARS HILL, N.C. - The Mars Hill women's basketball team dropped their home opener, 77-65, on Tuesday evening against Belmont Abbey. Sheena Johnson led the Lions with 15 points.
Entering the second half with a four point lead, Belmont Abbey outscored the Lions 24-13 to build a lead insurmountable for the home team to catch in the final 20 minutes.
The Crusaders opened the half on a 10-4 run before the Lions cut the lead to single digits with a three-pointer from Valeriya Pokrovskaya with 4:33 remaining in the third quarter. Emry Tsitouris would lay the ball in to put the Crusaders up 52-43 and begin an 11-7 run to close out the quarter.
Mars Hill would outscore the Crusaders 15-14 in the final 10 minutes, but would ultimately fall short in their home opener.
Johnson scored a team-high eight points in the opening 10 minutes, including five of the first 10 Mars Hill points. The Lions opened the contest on a 10-4 run before Maria Kuhlman cut the lead down to three with the first of her four made three-point attempts. Johnson reestablished the six point lead by draining her second three-pointer of the quarter twenty seconds later.
Mars Hill, carrying a 15-7 lead with 4:58 remaining in the quarter, would give surrender the next seven points to the Crusaders who tied the game with a layup from Keyanna Spivey. Tiffany Holloway broke the streak with a layup of her own to regain the lead. The teams traded leads down the stretch until a three-pointer was made by Mariah Johnson to give the Lions a 22-20 lead with 1:19 left in the quarter. Mars Hill entered the second quarter with a 23-21 lead over the Crusaders.
Kuhlman continued her hot hand in the second frame, going 2-2 from beyond the arc to lead all players with six points in the quarter. Continuing the back-and-forth narrative, Belmont Abbey's Hannah Roney sunk a three-pointer with 1:48 remaining in the half to give the Crusaders a 38-36 lead. Allie Downing added two points with two seconds remaining to send the Crusaders into the second half with a 40-36 lead.
Kuhlman led all players with 18 points, 12 of which came from beyond the arc. Tsitouris added 15 points and 13 rebounds for a double-double. Downing chipped in 12 points and eight rebounds. Roney and Briana Grier led the Crusaders with five assists each.
Sheena Johnson and Maddie Webb each had six rebounds for team-highs. Tiffany Holloway had seven points from the bench as well as five rebounds in 15 minutes of play. Marissa Jones and Gabby Gianikos led the Lions with four assists apiece.
Both teams sit at 1-2 after the contest.
Mars Hill will take the court on Friday, November 17 to kick-off the Courtyard Classic against Chowan. Tip-off is scheduled for 4 p.m.