HARROGATE, Tenn. — Junior guard Ansley Ricker’s game-high 23 points powered the upset-minded Mars Hill University Lions to a 69-66 victory over the Lady Railsplitters in South Atlantic Conference women’s basketball action on Wednesday. The loss snaps a four-game winning streak for Lincoln Memorial, dropping its record to 8-7 overall and 7-4 in league play. Mars Hill improves to 4-11 and 3-8.
The Lady Railsplitters got off to a rocky start in Wednesday’s contest and worked for the remainder of the game to dig out of that hole. A three-pointer by Brittany Baker at the 9:57 mark of the opening half catapulted the Lions out to a commanding 20-5 advantage. A three-pointer and a bucket by Haley Nelson accounted for LMU’s only points over that cold spell.
Trailing 25-10 with 7:41 remaining in the first stanza, the Lady Railsplitters began to click on offense and closed on a 16-4 run, capped with a Josey Harding free throw to carry a 29-26 deficit into the break.
Lincoln Memorial finished 8-for-28 from the field in the first half for a 28.6 percent mark, while the Lions knocked down 12 of their 28 attempts. The Lions drained five three-pointers in that frame and Lincoln Memorial nearly offset that with an 8-for-12 mark from the free-throw line. Mars Hill concluded the opening half without a free-throw attempt.
Ten straight points from junior guard Aisjah Roan helped LMU rally back into the lead at 38-36 with 16:04 remaining in regulation, and the Lady Railsplitters held onto a narrow lead for the majority of the next 10 minutes of action. However, a Genice Lane layup and a Brittany Baker free throw put the Lions back on top, 56-55, with 5:23 left on the clock.
After a number of lead changes and four ties, the Lions broke away from a 64-64 tie with two Ricker free throws and another freebie by Baker with 12 seconds left. LMU’s Britney Guy quickly scored to cut the deficit to one with four seconds left, however, Ricker drained two more free throws in the Lions’ next possession to seal the Mars Hill win.
After going 15-for-24 (62.5 percent) in the second half, the Lady Railsplitters finished shooting 44.2 percent with a 23-for-52 mark. LMU bounced in four three-pointers while nailing 16 of their 27 free-throw attempts. Roan led the Lady Railsplitters with 17 points, four rebounds, two assists and two steals in 25 minutes of action before fouling out. Senior Kalasia Green contributed 16 points with nine rebounds in 32 minutes. MaRanda Boddie and Nelson added eight points apiece, and Boddie also cataloged seven rebounds and two blocks.
Ricker paced the Lions, who shot 39.3 percent (24-for-61) from the field, with a game-high 23 points. Ricker reached that mark on 6-of-13 shooting and an 8-for-9 effort from the charity stripe. Baker provided Mars Hill with 14 points and nine rebounds in 26 minutes off the bench, while Kelsey Espinosa tallied eight points, eight rebounds, six assists and three steals. Autumn Ward also contributed to the Mars Hill offensive effort with eight points.
The Lady Railsplitters narrowly edged the Lions on the boards 38-37, but Mars Hill used 12 offensive rebounds to connect for 11 second-chance points. Mars Hill committed 16 turnovers which accounted for 19 points for Lincoln Memorial, who also won the battle in the paint 30-26. Behind Green’s 16 points, LMU’s bench outscored the Lions’ second unit 31-26.
Lincoln Memorial visits Catawba on Saturday for a 2 p.m. tip in Salisbury, N.C.