GREENEVILLE, S.C. – The Converse (0-2) basketball team dropped a tough 66-60 contest to Mars Hill (1-1) on Saturday evening during the concluding day of the 2017 SAC/Conference Carolinas Challenge. Down by as many as 20 points in the second half the Vals used a stingy defense and power post presence to get back in the game, but in the end just ran out of fuel.
Converse shot just 31% (22-71) from the field, including 4-of-24 from behind the arc (16.7%). The Valkyries held Mars Hill to 30.5% (18-59) and 2-for-15 from three. After being outrebounded by seven in the first half (25-18) Converse finished the contest with a 50-44 advantage on the boards, while also forcing 24 Lion turnovers. The Valkyries assisted on 15 of their 22 made baskets.
Back-to-back threes and a pair of free throws from Tiffani Riggen gave Converse the early 8-2 lead just over a minute into the contest. However, a 7-0 run by the Lions gave Mars Hill its first lead (9-8) heading into the first media timeout of the opening period. A layup by Shakori Jennings-Shuler at the 3:33 mark put the Vals back ahead by the count of 12-11, but Mars Hill finished the quarter with an 8-2 spurt to lead 19-14 after one.
Both offenses were sluggish to begin the second quarter, as Mars Hill outscored Converse by two points (8-6) with more than five minutes running off the clock. The Lions pushed ahead by double-digits (33-21) following a pair of free throws by Tiffany Holloway, but a Tatum Boggs three from the corner cut it to single-digits with just over two minutes to play in the half. Shots from the charity stripe by the Lions to end the half took the game into the intermission with the Valkyries trailing 39-26.
Seven straight points out of the gate by the Lions ballooned the lead to 20 (46-26) at the 8:32 mark of the third quarter. A Dominique Hill steal and layup put an end to the run and sparked a crucial 17-3 run that got the Valkyries right back into the contest, cutting the score to 49-43. During the run the Converse defense turned up the heat, forcing double-digit turnovers by the Lions and the big-to-big post game was on a different level, feeding the ball high-and-low for high-percentage shots. Mars Hill led 53-43 heading into the final stanza.
An old-fashioned three-point play from Nigeria Davis to start the fourth ignited a 9-2 run by the Valkyries, trimming the deficit to a single point (53-52) with seven minutes to play in regulation. However, an 8-0 run over the next three-plus by MHU pushed the lead back to a comfortable margin of 61-52. Converse made one last effort to comeback, cutting the lead to four on two separate occasions, but that was as close as the contest got the rest of the way as CC fell by the final of 66-60.
Davis led the way for Converse, posting her first career double-double with 13 points and 10 rebounds, while Abigail Lewis and Brianna James tallied nine and eight points, respectively. Sheena Johnson led Mars Hill with 16 points. The biggest difference of the game came from the free throw line as Converse knocked down just 12-of-19 for 63.2% while Mars Hill connected on 28-of-31 (90.3%).
The Valkyries will return to the court on Monday, November 13 as they play in front of their home crowd for the first time, hosting Bob Jones University. That contest is scheduled to begin at 7 p.m. inside Hannah Gymnasium.