MARS HILL, N.C.-- Wingate University sophomore guard Nikki Burton hit the game-winner with five seconds to play, giving the visiting Bulldogs a 63-62 South Atlantic Conference women’s basketball victory over Mars Hill College Saturday afternoon in Stanford Arena. Wingate improved to 17-7 overall, 11-5 in SAC play. Mars Hill fell to 12-13 overall, 5-11 in the league.
It was senior day for the Lions as Taylor Deal and Jackie Simon played their last game in Stanford Arena for MHC.
Burton’s hoop capped a wild final seven-plus minutes, as Wingate rallied from a 12-point deficit. Wingate sophomore guard Janitsha Williams scored 15 points off the Bulldog bench, helping the WU reserves out-score their MHC counterparts 34-20. Williams hit six-of-eight field goals and three-of-five triples Saturday. Burton added nine points for the Bulldogs. Tyler Carlson led Mars Hill with 12 points and four assists. Lions guard Kristen Metcalf had 11 points, while senior forward Taylor Deal and freshman forward Armeka Booker contributed 10 points each.
The second half featured three ties and eight lead changes. A Williams triple tied the game 36-36 with 13:41 to play in the contest. Mars Hill replied with a big statement, making a 20-8 push to take a 56-44 lead on a lay-up by Erica Warren. Six different Lion players scored during the run, led by Metcalf’s five markers.
Wingate senior guard Kurie Washington hit a jumper on the next trip down the court, starting a 10-0 run for the Bulldogs. Williams concluded the flurry with a fast-break lay-up at the 3:38 mark, cutting the Wingate deficit to 56-54. Booker hit an inside bucket at 3:24 to push the Lions’ edge to four.
Bulldog junior forward Tish Logan answered with a jumper to make the score 58-56 Mars Hill with 2:35 to go. A Lion turnover gave the ball back to the Bulldogs and Williams made the most of the opportunity, taking a feed from Washington and nailing a three-pointer with 2:10 to play. The 2011 All-SAC Freshman team member gave Wingate a 59-58 advantage with her last basket of the day.
On the other end, Mars Hill missed three shots before Booker was fouled on an offensive rebound. The Lion newcomer calmly hit both charity tosses to give the hosts a 60-59 lead with 1:18 remaining. Burton (0:26) and Deal (0:11) traded heroic buckets, setting the stage for the Burton’s game-winner.
Neither team shot well in the opening frame, as Wingate headed to the halftime locker room with a 31-23 lead. The Bulldogs shot 33.3 percent (10-of-30) in the first half, while the Lions shot an even-chillier 28.6 percent (six-of-21).
Wingate outrebounded Mars Hill 43-33, thanks to Rutledge (eight boards), Washington (seven) and Logan (six). Booker and senior guard Jackie Simon had six rebounds each to lead the Lions.
Mars Hill will be in action again on Wednesday night when they travel to Salisbury, N.C. to take on Catawba. Tip-off is set for 6 p.m.