MARS HILL, N.C. – Junior guard Gage Ellis' traditional three-point play with a minute on the clock gave Anderson a two-point lead and the Trojans held on for a 75-69 win over Mars Hill in South Atlantic Conference men's basketball action, Wednesday night at Stanford Arena.
Anderson improved to 8-17 overall and 6-11 in league action by snapping a five-game skid, while Mars Hill (3-21, 1-16 SAC) dropped its fifth straight decision.
INSIDE THE BOX SCORE
Ellis led four Trojans in double figures with 16 points, with junior forward Jeremy Bouton and senior Rakish Taylor each adding 13 points apiece and combining for 11 rebounds. Senior guard Maurice Howard narrowly missed a double-double with 11 points and nine rebounds, which equaled a career-high effort on the boards.
HOW IT HAPPENED
The Trojans fell behind by four on two occasions in the early going, before scoring six unanswered points to turn a 9-5 deficit into an 11-9 lead on a layup by Ellis at the 13:44 mark. Mars Hill knotted the score for the second time a minute later and grabbed a two-point advantage on a layup with 11:27 left in the opening half.
With AU trailing again, at 13-11, Ellis connected on one of two from the line and Josh Livingston dropped in a layup before Andrew Boynton drained his first 3-pointer to give the Trojans their largest lead of the half, 17-13, with less than eight minutes on the clock. But the Lions responded with seven straight points in the low-scoring first-half and grabbed a 20-17 edge before claiming a 33-31 halftime lead.
The opening five minutes of the second half featured five lead changes, with Ellis' jumper at the 16:03 mark sparking a 6-2 run and giving the Trojans a 44-39 advantage. Mars Hill responded with a 7-2 surge of its own to even the score for the first time of the half, at 46 apiece, with 12:20 remaining.
Later, sophomore Christian Jeffords' rare four-point play at the 7:34 mark gave AU a 56-51 advantage and the Trojans held the lead for the next four minutes, until Mars Hill evened the score for the seventh time, at 61-61. The Lions' last lead (67-66) came when junior guard Vernon Jackson connected on 1-of-2 from the charity stripe with 1:18 on the clock and set up Ellis' late heroics. The Greenville, S.C., native dropped in a layup, drew a foul and nailed the free throw to give the Trojans a 69-67 edge.
AU, which entered the game as the league's second-best free throw shooting squad, was a perfect 6-of-6 from the line in the final 47 seconds to seal the win.
STAT OF THE NIGHT
The lead changed hands 19 times, including 13 times in the second half.
• The score was deadlocked on eight occasions – four in each half.
• AU won the rebounding battle, 40-37.
• The largest lead for either team was six points.
• Each team committed 15 turnovers.
• Gage Ellis has led the Trojans in scoring in the last four games.
• Ellis has reached double-figure scoring in five straight games.
• Jeremy Bouton has reached double-figure scoring in six straight games.
The Trojans wrap up their three-game conference road swing at Wingate on Saturday afternoon. AU will be looking to earn a split of the regular-season series after falling, 82-61, to the Bulldogs in early January at the Abney Center. Tip-off is slated for 4 p.m.