ANDERSON, S.C. – After facing two of the highest shooting percentages Anderson University women’s basketball has ever gone up against in its last two games, the Trojans countered with their highest shooting percentage of the season en route to a 97-58 triumph over South Atlantic Conference opponent Mars Hill Monday evening at the Abney Athletic Center.
The victory snaps a two-game losing skid and completes the season sweep over the Lions after notching a 78-71 win on Jan. 15 in the High Country. Also with the win, Anderson improves to 13-11 on the year and an even 9-9 in SAC play. The Lions drop to 6-16 overall and 5-13 in the league.
The depth of the Trojans shined as the AU bench outscored Mars Hill for the game, 68-58. Three substitutes led the way in scoring as senior Emily Willoughby connected on three 3-pointers which led to 15 points to go along with a career-high seven rebounds. Following the sharpshooter was sophomore guard Madison Floyd, who fell a point shy of tying her career-high finishing with 14. Junior center Jaclyn Moore went a perfect 6-for-6 from the floor setting a new career-high with 13 points.
“Our bench did a tremendous job with continuing to build the lead and play tough defense,” Anderson head coach Jimmy Garrity said. “I was really proud of our effort tonight, we played a total game today from start to finish.”
Junior Lesley Woods added nine points and five rebounds, while playing just seven minutes for the game. Sophomore Katie Davis dropped in eight points while freshman Nakia Young chipped in seven points with a game-high five assists. As a team, the Black and Gold shot 55.7 percent (39-for-70) from the floor, marking the first time this year AU has shot better than 50 percent for a game.
The Trojans out-rebounded the visitors 49-30 as Willoughby and junior guard Sierra Simpson grabbed seven rebounds apiece. Moore pulled down six rebounds while Floyd corralled five boards, including four on the offensive side. The positive rebounding margin breaks a streak of five straight games the Trojans have been out-rebounded.
“Our players did a great job following the scouting report, especially on the defensive side. We did a great job sharing and taking care of the basketball,” Garrity said. “I was really happy with our post players; they really demanded the ball and finished plays.”
Mars Hill was paced by Ansley Ricker with 13 points and Autumn Ward with nine points and seven rebounds. The Lions finished the contest shooting 32.1 percent (18-for-56) from the floor and 6-for-15 (40 percent) from behind the 3-point arc.
After getting off to slow starts to begin its last two games, Anderson jumped out of the gate in a hurry, netting the first seven points of the game, highlighted by two baskets from Woods. Moments later, AU recorded its first double digit advantage at the 13-2 mark when Simpson dropped in a quick lay-up.
With 9:31 left in the opening period, Anderson’s lead became a 22-point advantage as Floyd connected on her lone trey of the opening half. Four minutes later, the Trojans took a 31-point lead when Moore recorded a lay-in after a miss from Simpson, bringing the score to 31-5 with 6:55 left in the first period.
As Anderson took its largest lead of the half at 47-12, MHU chipped into the deficit, eventually cutting the score to 51-23 heading into halftime. The 51 points scored by the Trojans was the largest total for a first half this season, beating out the original high of 49 points scored against Brevard on Nov. 20.
The offensive attack continued for the home side, eventually taking a 40-point lead when Willoughby buried a 3-pointer from the corner, taking the score to 77-37 at the 11:20 mark. Willoughby, who entered the game just 1-for-9 from beyond the arc in her last four games, put up her highest 3-point percentage since making 4-of-5 against Carson-Newman on Jan. 29.
The Trojans recorded their largest lead of the game at the 5:58 mark when sophomore Jennifer Monroe knocked in a free throw, sending the tally to 88-45. Monroe, who saw 12 minutes on the floor, finished the contest with seven points and three rebounds.
Following the free throw, Anderson would receive its next points from two-sport athlete Tinsley Hallman for her first points of the season after scoring a lay-in while being fouled in the process. Hallman was unable to convert the traditional 3-point play, but finished the game with four points and two rebounds.
The 39-point win marks the largest margin of victory for the Trojans this season and the third time AU has won by more than 30 points. Since joining the conference prior to the 2010-11 season, Anderson is now 7-1 against Mars Hill.
“Having to play three games in five days with two of them on the road, it was good that we were able to share so many minutes throughout the team,” Garrity said. “We are a tough team to play when we can get it going from both the inside and the outside.”
The Black and Gold will have a quick turnaround as they hit the road to the Volunteer State to face Carson-Newman. Tip-off from Holt Fieldhouse is slated for 6 p.m.