Balanced Attack Lifts Trojans Past Mars Hill

Balanced Attack Lifts Trojans Past Mars Hill

ANDERSON, S.C. – With five players reaching double figures in the scoring column, the Anderson men's basketball team snapped a three-game skid with an 88-76 win over Mars Hill in South Atlantic Conference action, Wednesday night at the Abney Athletic Center.  

Anderson (5-11, 3-5 SAC) won its third straight decision over the Lions and 14th in 16 meetings, while Mars Hill fell to 2-14 overall and 0-9 in conference play with its sixth straight setback.

Guard Gage Ellis led the Trojans with 19 points, including the Trojans' first 10 points of the game. The junior from Greenville, S.C., was 8-of-14 from the field and also recorded six rebounds. Junior guard Randall Shaw added 17 first-half points in his first game since mid-December, while freshman Josh Livingston posted the Trojans' second double-double of the season with 13 points and a career-high 11 rebounds in 24 minutes of action. Junior forward Jeremy Bouton netted 13 points, with sophomore guard Christian Jeffords chipping in 10 points. Senior center Rakish Taylor grabbed a season-high nine rebounds.

First Half
Mars Hill scored the first three points of the contest, but Ellis countered with five straight points on the other end of the court to give the Trojans a brief two-point advantage before the Lions responded with five consecutive points to claim an 8-5 edge less than three minutes into the game.

Ellis traded baskets with the Lions' Justen Hartfield, then connected on a jumper and 1-of-2 from the free throw line to knot the score at 10 apiece at the 14:12 mark. With the score deadlocked at 12-12 less than two minutes later, Shaw drained back-to-back 3-pointers, first from the right wing, then from the left wing to give the Trojans a lead they would not relinquish, while Jeffords capped the surge with a jumper to boost AU's advantage to 20-16 midway through the half.

The Trojans opened a double-digit, 28-18, lead when Shaw dropped in a driving left-handed layup, but Mars Hill quickly cut the AU cushion in half with five straight points before AU went on an 11-3 run to build a 39-26 edge and finished the opening half with an 8-4 surge to take a 47-32 halftime lead.

Second Half
Senior guard Maurice Howard scored the first two baskets of the second half, as the Trojans opened a 19-point cushion and went on to claim their largest lead of the contest, 53-33, with 16:03 on the clock.

The Trojans held the double-digit advantage until Mars Hill junior Brandon Watkins connected on a pair of free throws at the 2:23 mark to trim AU's lead to single digits (77-68), before Jeffords answered with his second 3-pointer of the night and Taylor followed with a traditional three-point play to give AU some more breathing room and the Trojans were 5-of-6 from the free throw line in the final 23 seconds to seal the win.        

The Trojans, who entered the game second in the league in free throw accuracy, were 16-of-20 (80%) on the night.

• AU out-rebounded the Lions, 45-35, and grabbed a season-high 14 offensive rebounds.   
• The Trojans handed out 11 assists and turned 17 Mars Hill turnovers into 23 points.
• AU outscored the Lions, 36-24, in the paint.
• The Trojans scored 24 second-chance points.
• The Trojans have pulled down double-digit offensive rebounds in three of the last four games.

The Trojans open a two-game conference road swing at Coker, Saturday afternoon and will wrap up the first half of the SAC double round-robin slate at Tusculum on Jan. 17. Tipoff versus the Cobras in Hartsville, S.C. is set for 4 p.m.