SPARTANBURG, S.C. – The Converse (4-2) basketball team posted its fourth consecutive win, taking down South Atlantic Conference's Mars Hill (1-4) on Saturday afternoon inside Hannah Gymnasium. The Valkyries avenged a loss to the Lions just over a week ago, edging MHU 66-63 in front of an energetic crowd. The four-game winning streak marks the first time the Vals have accomplished the feat since moving to the Division II level.
Just as it has been from the start of the season a different player paced the Purple and Gold, this time in the likes of Brianna James. James poured in a season-high 21 points, including clutch shots towards the end of regulation to lead Converse. A trio of players (Tatum Boggs, Abigail Lewis, and Paige Johnson) chipped in 10 points each in the win. Nigeria Davis owned the boards, pulling down a game-high 14 rebounds, while Boggs filled the stat sheets once again, adding seven assists, four rebounds, three steals, and a pair of blocked shots to go with her double-digit scoring night.
Converse shot 36.4% (20-55) from the field, including 6-of-19 (31.6%) from behind the arc, while knocking down 20-of-32 (62.5%) free throws. Mars Hill held a 45-35 margin in rebounds, but were forced into 24 turnovers by the Valkyries. Converse's bench outscored Mars Hill by a dominant 29-9 margin.
A three-ball by Jordan Brooks gave Converse an early 11-6 lead just five minutes into the opening period. That lead grew to eight points (21-13) at the end of the quarter after Brooks cashed in a bucket and free throw to close out the scoring for the opening frame.
Davis made the lead double-digits (23-13) with a jumper in the paint to start the scoring in the second quarter, but Mars Hill used a 9-0 run to close to within one point (23-22) halfway through the frame. Back-to-back threes from Boggs and James, sandwiched in between a Sheena Johnson layup for the Lions, pushed the lead back to 29-24 with three minutes and 20 seconds remaining until halftime. Johnson connected on a three pointer of her own to close the deficit to a single possession (29-27), but Converse finished the half with four straight to take a 33-27 lead into the break.
An old-fashioned three-point play from Shaigna Wentz capped off a 9-1 run by the Lions to open the second half, giving Mars Hill its first lead of the contest (36-34) four minutes into the third quarter. From that point the game became a seesaw affair as the two teams battled to numerous lead changes and ties over the next several minutes of game time. With the score at 41-39 in favor of the Vals, Mars Hill ripped off eight of the next nine points to take its biggest advantage (47-42) with 2:09 remaining in the third. However, Converse would not go away, ripping off an 8-1 run of its own to lead 50-48 heading into the final stanza.
The final period was one for the ages as the score was tied four times and changed hands on six other occasions. A pair of free throws from James staked the home team to a slim 56-55 lead, but Mariah Johnson of MHU drilled a three pointer to put the Lions back ahead (58-56) with three and a half to play in regulation. That lead grew to three (59-56) after a Maddie Webb free throw, but James electrified the crowd with a game-tying three-ball that sparked a mini 5-0 run, pushing the Vals back in front 61-59.
Back-to-back buckets by the Lions reestablished the lead for MHU at 63-61, but that was the last points the Blue and Gold saw as Johnson tied the contest with a blow-by layup and Dominique Hill posted her only two points of the contest with 38 ticks left to give the Vals a two-point lead late. Boggs connected on one-of-two from the charity stripe to extend the lead to 66-63 and Mariah Johnson's desperation three went down and came back out to seal the win for Converse.
Sheena Johnson led Mars Hill with a game-high 24 points, while Shaigna Wentz chipped in 13. Baylea Loven pulled down a team-high 10 boards.
Converse will be back in action on Sunday, November 26 as it plays host to Winston-Salem State. Tipoff for that contest is scheduled for 3 p.m.