Once again, the Queens Royals took a game down to the last play. And for the second time in four days, they came out on the short end.
Justin Yeargin took a full-court pass and scored a game-winning layup with 0.3 seconds left to give visiting Mars Hill a 74-73 upset win in South Atlantic Conference men’s basketball action Saturday.
That basket made a loss out of what had looked like a last-second victory on Queens’ last possession, when junior forward Jedarian Jackson drilled a 3-pointer from the deep left corner with 1.2 seconds to play to give the Royals a 73-72 lead.
And it closed a difficult week with the Royals’ second one-point, last-minute loss in four days, following a 75-74 loss at Wingate on Wednesday.
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“The Wingate game took a lot out of us, and I think that showed today,” Queens coach Bart Lundy said. “I thought this was one of our worst energy efforts of the season.”
Junior forward Sean Morgan scored 17 points and pulled down nine rebounds to lead Queens, which has had four of its last five games decided by two points or fewer.
The loss, combined with Carson-Newman’s win at Wingate on Saturday afternoon, left the Royals (14-10, 11-7 SAC) in a three-way tie with those teams for second place in the conference standings. Lincoln Memorial, the No. 1 team in Division II, has already clinched the regular-season SAC championship.
Guard Michael Carson scored 23 points, including 7-of-10 on 3-pointers to lead Mars Hill. The Lions, tied for last place entering the game, improved to 10-14, 5-13.
They held a 55-41 lead with 12 minutes to play, but the Royals fought their way back in the game, culminating in a pair of Rob Lewis free throws — combined with four straight misses from the line by Mars Hill — that pulled Queens to within 72-70 with 16.4 seconds left.
Mars Hill grabbed a 41-31 halftime lead after hitting five 3-pointers in the last seven minutes of the half.
Lewis scored 14 points and forward Jared Hendryx added a season-high 13 points for Queens. Yeargin and forward Isaiah Cuthbertson added 14 each for Mars Hill, which had lost four of its previous five games.
NOTES: The Royals’ next two games are at home, at 8 p.m. Wednesday against Newberry, and at 4 p.m. Saturday against Carson-Newman, finishing the regular season home schedule. “We’ve got two weeks and four hard games left,” Lundy said. “At some point we have to start taking advantage of our chances.