SALISBURY, N.C. - The Mars Hill men's basketball team (5-4, 0-2 SAC) rallied late, but were defeated 96-86 by Catawba (8-1, 3-0 SAC) in South Atlantic Conference play Saturday evening.
The Indians outscored the Lions 51-36 in the first half with Jameel Taylor's 11 points leading the way. Ben Zemonek and Daquan Lilly each added 10 apiece. Chris Barnette scored a team-high 11 in the first half followed by Ja'Shawn Brooks' 10 points.
Catawba jumped out to an early 7-2 run, but a three-pointer by Barnette pulled the Lions back within two. Barnette was responsible for five of the first seven points the Lions scored as they trailed 11-7 with 15:21 remaining, but Taylor answered for the Indians, scoring six straight points to put Catawba up 17-10 with just over 14 minutes left in the half.
The Indians built their lead to double-digits with 10 minutes remaining in the half. Four straight points by Austin Gilyard followed by a layup from Reggie Wright over a 1:13 span brought the deficit down to four. Countering the Lions' best shots, Catawba maintained the lead, but a surging Lions' squad pulled within two with just over six minutes left in the opening half. Devin Cooper responded for Catawba, scoring six straight points to pull ahead by eight and become a catalyst for the Indian offense to once again build a double-digit lead entering the half.
Despite outscoring the Indians 50-45 in the second half, the late Mars Hill push was unsuccessful. Marcell Haskett scored a team-high 13 points in the final 20 minutes of play for Catawba while Brooks dropped 20 for Mars Hill. His 30 points on the evening led all players and was his third game of the season with 30 or more points.
Brooks pulled Mars Hill within single digits with just under 10 minutes remaining in the contest for the first time since the 16:49 mark of the first half. Answering back, the Indians scored eight of the next 10 points to go up by 12 points, which eventually grew to their largest lead of the contest at 17 points with 5:28 remaining.
The Lions still trailed by 17 with four minutes left in the game, but a 10-0 run pulled the Lions back within seven. Gilyard led the way with six points followed by Brooks' four. With the Lions down by 11 in the final 1:30 of the game, Brooks scored five points in :12 to bring Mars Hill within six, but the late push was not enough as Catawba was able to hit four free throws, all by Cooper, down the stretch to secure their seventh win in a row.
The Indians were led by a balanced scoring attack with five players registering 16 points or more. Zemonek ended with a team-high 18 points, followed by 17 point outputs from Cooper and Taylor. Lilly and Haskett added 16 points apiece.
Brooks led all players with 30 points and collected five rebounds. Gilyard finished with 13 points followed by Barnette's 11 on the evening.
Mars Hill returns to action on Wednesday, December 19th when they host the Eagles of Carson-Newman inside Stanford Arena. Tipoff is scheduled for 8 p.m.