skip to Main Content
Tay Smith
Tay Smith had 18 points and six rebounds for the Bears.
photo courtesy of Lenoir-Rhyne Athletics

Lenoiri-Rhyne Men’s Basketball Defeats Mars Hill

The Lenoir-Rhyne Men’s Basketball Team won its third home game in February as the Bears defeated Mars Hill, 69-61.

After going into the break down by seven points, the Bears turned their offense around by shooting 57 percent from the floor and 62.5 percent from behind the arc in the second half.

A part of that surge in the offense was Tay Smith, who drilled back-to-back triples to extend the Bears lead from three to nine with five minutes remaining. The junior led the Bears with 19 points on 6-11 shooting.

The bench was the difference maker for the Bears as the reserves combined for 30 points. Sam Martin and Jaheim Taylor led the way for the Bears as the pair scored nine and seven points, respectively.

With this victory, it’s the first time that the Bears have won two-straight games in the calendar year. The last time LR had consecutive wins was back in Dec. 9-19, 2023, when the Bears won four-straight contests.

Jaquias Franklin had a perfect shooting display from the floor by going 3-3 from the field and 2-2 from beyond the arc. The junior added three points from the free throw line to register his fourth double-figure performance in his past five appearances. In addition to his team-high 19 points, Smith also shared a team-high with six rebounds. Alongside Smith to collect six rebounds were Cooper Fowler and Jalen Miller.

The 17 free throws that LR converted was the fourth-most the Bears have recorded in a single game this season. All top four performances occurred in Shuford Arena. While the Bears shot a total of 22 free throws, they did not give the Lions many chances from the charity stripe as Mars Hill only shot four free throws.

This also marks the third consecutive game that the Bears 71 percent or greater from the free throw line. LR has shot higher than that mark in six of the past seven games. LR brought down 13 offensive rebounds which was tied for third-most in a single game this season. The other time the Bears hauled in that many offensive boards was against Limestone on Feb. 3.

With all those offensive rebounds, LR won the second chance points battle by tallying 16 points. Mars Hill recorded nine. The Bears only turned the ball over nine times in the game, which was the lowest they have committed since their eight turnovers against Wingate back on Jan. 31.

Mars Hill went 40 percent from behind the arc in three-point attempts. With that number, it’s the fourth-straight time that the Bears have allowed an opponent to shoot 40 percent or better from beyond the arc. Both sides had an even battle when it came to points in the paint. The Bears and Lions each had 26 points in the lane.

With the win, LR now leads the all-time series, 75-34. In the past 35 meetings between Lenoir-Rhyne and Mars Hill in Hickory, N.C., the Bears have won 30 of the contests.

The Bears continue to excel well at home with a 8-3 record at home in the 2023-24 regular season. LR’s only two home conference losses came against Carson-Newman on Jan. 13 and Anderson on Feb. 7. In addition to this victory, LR has completed the season sweep over Mars Hill. The Bears defeated the Lions, 80-59, on Dec. 13, 2023, in Mars Hill, N.C.

With this win, LR continues to hold onto the eighth seed in the SAC Men’s Basketball standings. The Bears currently possess a half-game lead over Limestone for the final spot in the SAC Men’s Basketball Tournament with a 13-12 overall record, and 8-9 in the South Atlantic Conference.

The Lenoir-Rhyne Men’s Basketball Team will complete its three-game home stand with a mid-week contest against Coker on Wednesday, Feb. 21 at 7:30 p.m. The Bears look to complete another season sweep after LR defeated Coker, 85-82, back on Dec. 16, 2023.