TIGERVILLE, SC- The North Greenville Crusaders turned a sluggish start into the most exciting game and finish of the season, defeating Mars Hill College 93-86 in front of a raucous crowd in Hayes Gymnasium. The win marks the first time in school history, North Greenville has knocked off the Lions. PJ Schumacher (Waynesburg, PA) shot 7-14 from the field, including four three-pointers to lead the Crusaders with 25 points. Walt Baxley led all scorers with 40 points on 13-21 shooting for Mars Hill.
North Greenville started off in sort of a funk, finding themselves down 13-3 just four minutes into the game. Then, the Crusaders began to play with a high level of intensity that they were able to sustain the rest of the game. North Greenville cut the lead to 18-16 with 12:06 left in the first half on a Jordan Richmond (Russellville, AR) layup. The Lions made another run to go up 10 with 6:20 on the clock, but the Crusaders battled back once again. Daniel Morbitzer (Lexington, SC) tied the game on a layup with 45 seconds left in the half, but a pair of Baxley free throws and an Elliott McDowell layup gave the Lions a 42-38 halftime advantage.
The second half proved to be the most exciting of the season thus far. The Crusaders found themselves down by ten with 11:07 to play. Richmond, who finished the night with 18 points, hit a huge three-point basket at the 8:30 mark to pull North Greenville within four points. Two and a half minutes later, Andrew Nipper (Cleveland, TN) hit a pair of free throws to cut the Lion lead to two, and then Josh Burgess (Pickens, SC) nailed a jump shot to tie the game at the 72 apiece with 4:19 left in the game.
Forty seconds later, Burgess still had a hot hand, and drained a three-pointer to give North Greenville the a 75-74 lead. Thanks to a stingy defense and 11-12 free throw shooting down the stretch, the Crusaders never surrendered the lead and won the game 93-86.
Six Crusaders scored in double-figues. Schumacher scored 25 points, while Richmond finished with 18. Amonzo Gantt (Royston, GA) recorded his fifth double-double in six games by scoring 15 points and grabbing 11 rebounds. Nipper, Morbitzer, and Burgess added 14, 11, and ten points respectively. McDowell was the second-leading scorer for Mars Hill with 21 points.
North Greenville shot 61.2% from the field, while Mars Hill hit 48.3% of their shots.
The Crusaders improve to 6-11 on the season, while the Lions fall to 8-10. North Greenville will be back in action Wednesday evening when they pay a visit to USC-Aiken. Tipoff is slated for 7:30 p.m.