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Mars Hill wins at the buzzer, 67-66 as Tusculum rally comes up empty

Mars Hill wins at the buzzer, 67-66 as Tusculum rally comes up empty

MARS HILL, N.C. --- Mars Hill's Ja'Shawn Brooks hit the game-winning three-pointer with 0.4 seconds left to give the Lions a 67-66 win over visiting Tusculum Wednesday night at Stanford Arena.

Brooks' trey came four seconds after Tusculum's Tariq Jenkins gave the Pioneers a 66-64 lead after trailing by 10 points with 3:48 left in regulation.

The Mars Hill (7-7, 5-2 SAC) win snapped a seven-game losing streak to Tusculum (10-5, 5-2 SAC) while halting the Pioneers' four-game winning streak. MHU also handed Tusculum its first loss at Stanford Arena since Feb. 23, 2013, ending a six-season drought.

Brooks, the South Atlantic Conference's leading scorer entering the night, finished with a game-high 17 points including four 3-pointers. MHU teammates Austin Gilyard and Javonte Cooke contributed 12 points each, while Nassyr Daniel tallied 10 points as the Lions.

Tusculum senior Dillon Smith led the Pioneers with 16 points off the bench including three free throws with 42 seconds remaining to give TU its first lead of the night at 62-61 and cap a 13-2 run.

Sophomore Trenton Gibson added 13 points and nine rebounds, while Brandon Mitchell accounted for six points, two blocks, four steals and game-high 11 rebounds in the loss.

The Lions led 33-24 at the half and took its largest lead of the game at 35-24 following a jumper by Matthew Powell 1:40 into the final period.  Tusculum trimmed the deficit to five at 39-34 following a Caleb Hodnett offensive rebound and put-back with 14:41 remaining.

MHU pushed the lead back to eight (42-34), before the Pioneers answered with a 6-1 run following a Smith basket with 11:33 to go to trail 43-40.

Daniel made two free throws for the Lions and TU freshman Zack Dixon answered with a layup for the visitors to make it a 45-42 game with 10:13 left.

Tusculum cut the MHU lead to two points on a pair of occasions over the next few moments including 51-49 with 7:44 remaining after Gibson triple from the corner.

The Pioneers would have a shooting drought as the Lions went on an 8-0 run thanks to six made free throws and a Cooke dunk as Mars Hill led 59-49 with 3:48 left.

Caleb Hodnett sparked the Tusculum rally with a jumper and Mitchell followed with a steal to set up a Jenkins jumper as the Pioneers cut the deficit to 59-53 with 2:41 left.

Smith was fouled shooting a three-pointer on TU's next possession as he missed the first free throw but made the next two for a 59-55 score with 2:27 remaining.

Tusculum tied the game at in an 11-second span as Smith canned a jumper, came up with the steal and layup as TU and Mars Hill were deadlocked at 59-59 with 1:20 left.

Brooks drew a foul on the next possession as he briefly ended the TU run with a pair of free throws with 1:02 on the scoreboard and regain the lead at 61-59.

Smith was fouled again shooting a three-pointer, but this time he cashed in on all three free throws as Tusculum led 62-61 with 42 seconds left.  Cooke went up for a shot but Mitchell came up with the block and the rebound and was fouled with 28 seconds remaining.  Mitchell would make both free throws as Tusculum led 64-61.  But the lead was short-lived as Powell came down and pulled up for the game-tying three-pointer (64-64) with 16.7 seconds left.

After a Mars Hill timeout, Jenkins canned a clutch running jumper in the lane for a 66-64 lead with five seconds left, but Brooks calmly dribbled up the court and pulled up for the game-winning trey with 0.4 seconds to go for the victory.

Tusculum finished the game shooting 36.9 percent including 16-of-39 in the second half (41%). TU would only hit four 3-pointers on 18 attempts (22%) and went 14-of-24 at the free throw line (58.3%).  Mars Hill shot 34.6 percent but canned nine treys and shot 22-of-31 at the foul line.

Tusculum out-rebounded the Lions by a 47-36 margin including 18-8 on the offensive boards resulting in 18 second chance points.  TU also outscored MHU 38-16 in the paint and held a 14-11 advantage in points off turnovers.

Jenkins finished the game with eight points, while Hodnett also tallied eight markers and four rebounds.

 

The Pioneers return to action on Saturday when they travel to Hartsville, South Carolina to take on Coker University for a 4 p.m. contest from the DeLoach Center.

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