Virginia-Wise (9-10, 5-8) had three players finish in double-figure scoring on the way to a 62-57 SAC win over Mars Hill at Burt Stanford Arena.
The win marked the first conference road win for any Virginia-Wise sports program since the Cavaliers began play in the SAC in the fall.
“I didn’t know that,” Cavs coach Jamie Cluesman said when informed the win was a historic one for the school. “That is a pretty cool feeling.”
The Cavs built a 29-20 lead by halftime and led 52-35 by the end of third quarter.
In the final period, Mars Hill (2-17, 0-13) found a different gear in its offensive attack and applied the pressure to the Cavaliers.
“We let them back into the game. We didn’t continue to be aggressive down the stretch, but I thought we still played decent. I thought the zone was really good to us in the first three quarters,” said Cluesman. “They started hitting some shots and we had to go back to man (defense). They made some adjustments and it kind of hurt us down the stretch, but we still found a way to win.”
Virginia-Wise held a 56-42 lead with 4:52 left in the game. A 15-2 scoring run by Mars Hill cut the Cavalier lead to 58-57 with just 48 seconds left. But that was as close as the Lions could get.
The Cavs took advantage of missed Mars Hill shots in the final seconds by hitting four free throws — two from Kalee Johnson (Happy Valley) and two game-clinchers from freshman Leah Kestner (Chilhowie) — to seal the win.
The victory put Virginia-Wise in a tie with Lincoln Memorial for the eighth spot in the conference standings.
With the Cavaliers fighting for a spot in the eight-team conference tournament, Johnson said the team was determined to pick up the win.
“We needed this road win bad, and before we came in, we knew we had to win this game and we just came out and did what we could,” Johnson said.
Freshman Caitlyn Ross led the Cavs in scoring with 14 points, while Johnson had 13 points and eight rebounds and Kestner finished with 13 points and seven rebounds.
Tatum Boggs led Mars Hill with 13 points, while Selby Baughman finished with 11 points.
MARS HILL MEN TAKE WIN
In Wednesday’s men’s game, Mars Hill got 24 points from Ja’Shawn Brooks on the way to an 82-74 win over Virginia-Wise (5-14, 1-12).
Austin Gilyard added 20 points for the Lions (8-11, 6-7), while Nassyr Daniel had 14.
Cameron Whiteside led Virginia-Wise with 26 points, while Tajh Eason had 15 and Yesid Mosquera-Perea had 10.
Virginia-Wise hosts Catawba Saturday in SAC play, with the women’s game scheduled to start at 2 p.m. and the men’s game set to tip at 4 p.m.