Deshaune Green had career highs of 26 points and 14 rebounds for his first collegiate double-double, but Mount Olive was unable to withstand a late rally as the Trojans fell to West Virginia State 72-68 in day one of the 47th Annual Pickle Classic Friday at Kornegay Arena. A pair of Mount Olive miscues during a 63-second West Virginia State possession helped spark the comeback as the Yellow Jackets handed the Trojans their first loss in the Pickle Classic since 2009. Friday's contest was the Trojans' season opener.
In the opening game, R.J. McClure's three-pointer with exactly two minutes left broke a 46-46 tie and Lenoir-Rhyne held on for a 55-51 victory over Fayetteville State.
Mount Olive (0-1) led by as many as 12 points in the second half before West Virginia State (2-1) took its first lead since the opening minute of the game as David Ford's two free throws with 6:25 left to play gave the Yellow Jackets a 59-57 lead. Ford finished with 25 points for West Virginia State.
Green kept the Trojans' next possession alive with a pair of offensive rebounds and finished with a putback to tie the game. Howard Douglass, III answered for the Yellow Jackets with a three-pointer, but Mount Olive would use a scoring run to regain the lead.
Dory Hines' offensive board set up Jordan McCain's layup and Dontrell Brite made a steal in the open court and scored a fast-break layup to put the Trojans back on top. After a defensive stop, Ewon Wright hit a three-pointer to give Mount Olive a 66-62 lead with 3:32 remaining. But the Trojans would not hit another field goal the rest of the way.
Brandon Ross hit a three-pointer to pull West Virginia State within one and the Yellow Jackets went back on top 67-66 on Kendrick Ward's putback with 1:52 left. Green put the Trojans ahead again with a pair of free throws, but Ford's driving layup with 1:33 left gave West Virginia the lead for good at 69-68. Ford added a putback and Ross's free throw with three seconds left sealed the win.
Mount Olive built on a 39-32 halftime lead as Wright's three-pointer extended the margin to double digits for the first time and Green knocked down a pair of free throws with 16:50 left to play to give the Trojans their biggest lead at 46-34. The Trojans were still up 49-39 with 13:40 remaining when an unusual sequence helped West Virginia State get back in the game.
The Trojans were close to forcing a shot clock violation, but a foul with two seconds left to shoot gave West Virginia State a new 35 seconds. Defensive pressure on the sideline nearly forced a turnover, but the Yellow Jackets were granted a timeout. Ford kept the possession alive with an offensive rebound on his own missed shot.
Mount Olive appeared to come out of the possession unscathed after a missed three-point attempt and no Yellow Jacket players to contest the rebound. But the ball went off of two Trojan players and into the basket to pull West Virginia State within 49-41 with 12:37 remaining. The Yellow Jackets would get second-chance points on each of its next three possessions to erase all of Mount Olive's lead.
Green was 9-for-13 from the field and 8-for-11 from the free throw line. Green, whose previous career high was 16 points last year against St. Andrews, had 15 points in the first half. Wright and Mahammed Ibrahim each hit three three-pointers and finished with nine points apiece.
Ford was 10-for-17 from the field and shared team-high honors with nine rebounds. Anton Hutchins added 14 points and nine rebounds. West Virginia State outrebounded the Trojans 44-34
In the opener, Lenoir-Rhyne (3-0) led 22-21 at halftime, but three-pointers by Anthony Shelton and Tyrell Tate sparked a 14-3 run in the first four minutes of the second half to give Fayetteville State (1-2) a 35-25 lead. Lenoir-Rhyne (3-0) scored the game's next six points from the free throw line and B.J. Beasley's two free throws with 6:30 remaining tied the game 42-42.
After the two teams exchanged a pair of baskets, McClure hit his third three-pointer of the game to put the Bears ahead to stay. McClure followed with a steal on the defensive end and Denzel Dillingham's outlet pass found Jarvis Perry for a fast-break layup to give Lenoir-Rhyne a 51-46 lead. McClure hit 3-of-4 free throws in the final 18 seconds to put the game away.
McClure led all scorers with 16 points, while Dillingham added 12 points and four steals. Beasley pulled down a game-high 10 rebounds. Tate and Louis Craft led Fayetteville State with 11 points apiece.
During halftime of the Mount Olive-West Virginia State game, Conference Carolinas Commissioner Alan Patterson formally presented Mount Olive College with the 2011-12 Hawn Cup, the award for the best overall athletics program in the conference. In addition to the All-Sports trophy, Mount Olive also won the 2011-12 Men's Sports Hawn Cup and the 2011-12 Women's Sports Hawn Cup.
The Pickle Classic concludes Saturday at Kornegay Arena with games at 5 and 7:30 p.m. Lenoir-Rhyne faces West Virginia State in the opener and Mount Olive takes on Fayetteville State in the nightcap. Prior to the Trojans' game, this year's MOC Athletics Hall of Fame Inductees will be recognized. During halftime, the 2012 Mount Olive College Homecoming King and Queen will be announced.