SPARTANBURG, S.C. – Senior forward Abigail Lewis poured in a game-high 20 points to go along with eight rebounds to lead the Converse (1-0) basketball team to a 74-55 beating of Mars Hill (0-1) on Saturday afternoon inside Hannah Gymnasium. The Valkyries dominated all facets of the game en route to the season-opening win.
Freshman guard Alexis McMillian, playing in her first game as a member of the Purple and Gold, chipped in 15 points on 6-of-8 from the floor. Fellow freshman Tee Ballard contributed seven points and a game-high nine rebounds off the bench. Jordan Brooks dished out a career-high seven dimes. Brooke Vilcinskas paced the Lions with 11 points, while Mariah Johnson added 10.
Dominique Hill got the season started with a jumper just six seconds into the contest, igniting an 8-2 run by Converse in the game's initial three and a half minutes. A three-ball by Vilcinskas cut the deficit in half, but the Vals continued their strong start, ripping off 12 of the next 16 points to earn a double-digit lead (20-9) with 28 ticks remaining in the opening quarter.
The second quarter started slow for both teams as missed field goals and turnovers plagued each side. However, Jordan Brooks back-to-back shots from downtown to push the lead out to 26-11. Celeste Rucker, another key freshman, put her name in the scoring column with consecutive layups, giving the Valkyries their biggest lead of the first half at 33-15.
However, Mars Hill battled back and trimmed the gap to just 10 points following an 8-0 run, but Nia Smith converted a layup off a beautiful dish from McMillian to send Converse into the locker room with a 35-23 advantage.
The Valkyries absolutely dominated the third quarter, outscoring Mars Hill 19-6 over the ten-minute span, gaining their biggest lead of the contest at 52-23 following a Lewis layup at the 3:20 mark of the period.
The Lions used a huge 15-3 run over the rest of the third and into the fourth quarter to close the score to 17 points (55-38) with 7:35 left in the contest. Three consecutive threes to start the final period fueled the run for MHU. However, Converse continued to apply pressure, extending its lead back out to 25 (63-38) after a driving layup by McMillian. Mars Hill used one final push to get within 15 (70-55), but a jumper by Avery Curry and lay-in from Shakori Jennings-Shuler pushed the mark to its closing point at 74-55.
Converse dominated Mars Hill with a 38-18 advantage on points in the paint, as well as 18-2 on second chance points. The Valkyries outrebounded Mars Hill by a total of 56-36, while dishing out 24 assists. The Valkyries bench outscored MHU 25-11.
The Valkyries will be back in action on Friday, November 16, hosting Regents University in the opening day of the Courtyard Classic. Tip-off for that contest is scheduled for 6 p.m.