MARS HILL, N.C. – The Anderson men’s basketball team built a double-digit second-half lead, then held off a furious late rally to defeat Mars Hill, 79-70, in South Atlantic Conference action Wednesday night at Sanford Arena.
Anderson improved to 10-5 overall and 5-4 in conference play, while Mars Hill slipped to 2-12 overall and 0-9 in league action with its sixth straight setback. With the win, the Trojans evened the all-time series at nine apiece with their sixth consecutive win past the Lions and improved their road record to 6-1 on the season.
Senior guards Chandler Hash and CJ Gleaton shared game-high scoring honors, as each posted 19 points on the night. Gleaton notched 15 in the decisive second half, while recording a team-high eight rebounds and dishing out four assists on the night. Senior forward Kyle Sledge added a season-high 10 points, with junior guard Myson Jones scoring nine points and handing out four assists in 20 minutes of action.
Junior guard Devonte Williams led the Lions’ attack with 19 points and nine assists, while sophomore guard Kevin Haynes netted 16 and sophomore guard Carter Wright chipped in 15 points. Junior forward Thomas Anderson pulled down a game-high 11 rebounds.
The Trojans won the battle of the boards, 47-43, and overcame a slow start to shoot 40.9 percent from the field, while the Lions shot 35.9 percent on the night. Led by Hash’s four 3-pointers and Jones’ three treys, AU equaled its’ season-high with 11 triples.
“We were fortunate to survive,” said Anderson head coach Jason Taylor. “Chandler [Hash] made a huge shot from the corner. Mars Hill has good players and keeps improving. We needed a win, so I am happy about that.”
The game featured four lead changes in the first four minutes, with the Lions taking a an early 11-7 advantage on consecutive baskets by Williams and Haynes, with Haynes’ 3-pointer giving the Lions a 14-9 edge with just more than 14 minutes left in the first half.
But Anderson countered with three consecutive 3-pointers, first from Jones, then back-to-back treys from Hash, as the Trojans took their third lead of the opening frame and their first since the opening minute of the game, at 18-16, with exactly 12 minutes on the clock.
Less than two minutes later, Wright’s consecutive 3-pointers in a 36-second span, followed by a free throws by Haynes and Isaiah Cuthberston gave MHU their largest lead of the contest, 24-18, as shooting woes plagued the Trojans. Anderson connected on just six of the first 21 attempts from the field (29 percent).
Gleaton’s layup with 6:55 left in the half snapped the Lions’ 8-0 surge and Sledge’s layup pulled the Trojans within 24-22 at the 5:35 mark, but it was as close as AU would get until 1:25 remained in the half. MHU rebuilt its advantage to five on four occasions and held a 33-28 lead before AU closed the half with a 10-2 outburst to take a 38-35 lead into intermission. Junior guard Alani Adekambi sparked the rally with a pair of free throws and guard DJ McGowan capped the run with a 3-pointer.
The surge carried over into the second stanza, as Gleaton scored six straight for AU to key a 9-4 AU run over the opening three minutes, as the Trojans claimed a 47-39 lead with 17:11 remaining in the contest after Jones drained a 3-pointer.
Anderson would not trail the rest of the way, as long-range shooting fueled the breakout. Leading, 53-48, with 13:12 remaining Gleaton dropped in a jumper, then sophomore guard Myles Daniel connected on back-to-back 3-pointers, while Hash and redshirt freshman Lex Davis each followed with a trey.
The Trojans steadily built a 15-point advantage (71-56) with 4:56 remaining, only to see Mars Hill rattle off 14 unanswered points to pull within 71-70 on Williams’ second trey of the night with more than two minutes left. But Anderson regained its composure, as junior center Chris Ross grabbed a Daniel miss and scored on the putback, while Hash followed with a deep 3-pointer from the corner and AU closed the contest with an 8-0 run to set the final score.
Anderson gets back on the hardwood for a brief one-game homestand on Saturday, as Lenoir-Rhyne invades the Abney Center for the second meeting this season between the two squads. L-R edged the Trojans, 74-73, in Hickory, N.C. on Nov. 23.