GREENSBORO, N.C. - The Mars Hill men's basketball team opened their 2019-20 season with an exhibition game versus Elon, falling by a score of 90-84.
The Lions outscored Elon 48-42 in the second half.
The Lions entered the second half down by 12 points, but started strong in their comeback bid. After Mars Hill cut the lead down to six, Javonte Cooke was fouled on his layup make and hit the following free throw to pull Mars Hill within three. with just under five minutes played in the second half.
Elon once again pulled away, reestablishing a nine-point lead with 12:51 to play before Mars Hill began to claw their way back into the contest. Led by Austin Gilyard's six points during a 7-0 run, Mars Hill cut the deficit to 61-59 with under 10 minutes to play.
The Phoenixes led 66-63 before going on a 7-0 run to build a 10-point lead in the latter stages of the game. The resilient Lions club pulled to within three points with under a minute left in the game, the closest they would come as several key free throws down the stretch sealed the victory for Elon.
With just under eight minutes played in the first half, the Lions held a five-point lead after Matthew Powell's jump shot fell to put the Lions up 18-13. A 9-2 run by Elon was capped off by a Hunter McIntosh three-pointer to put the Phoenixes up 22-20.
Mars Hill led 36-35 with 2:24 remaining before Elon closed out the half on a 13-0 run. Zac Ervin drilled two three-pointers to have six points in the run.
Marcus Sheffield, II had a team-high 24 points and added five rebounds to pace the Phoenixes' offense. McIntosh ended the contest with 16 points.
Gilyard led all players with 28 points and hit all nine free throws on the night. Nassyr Daniel recorded 12 points and collected nine rebounds.
The Lions open up the regular season on Friday, November 8 when they take on Belmont Abbey to kickoff the Hampton Inn by Hilton Tip Off Classic. The game is scheduled for a 7:30 p.m. start.