Kendall Hargrove scored a season-high 21 points off the bench as Mount Olive withstood a second-half rally for a 79-74 victory over Belmont Abbey in Conference Carolinas men's basketball Thursday at Kornegay Arena. Hargrove was 8-for-9 from the field and 5-for-5 from the free throw line to help the Trojans outscore the Crusaders 47-6 from the bench. Dontrell Brite, Caleb Henderson and Darrell Patterson combined for 23 points off the bench as Mount Olive won for the sixth time in its last seven games and extended its home winning streak to four.
Mount Olive (7-8 overall, 4-5 Conference Carolinas) led by as many as 16 points in the first half before Belmont Abbey (12-6, 5-5) stormed back in the opening minutes of the second half. Belmont Abbey's Tyshawn Good, who ranks second in the nation in scoring with 25.3 points per game, was held to eight points in the first half, but erupted for 14 points in the 5 1/2 minutes of the second half to help pull the Crusaders within 49-45 with 15:36 left to play.
The Trojans built the lead back up to eight points, but Justin Kuhlman's basket with 9:26 remaining capped a 10-2 Belmont Abbey run and tie the game 55-55. The tie was the first since a 5-5 tie early in the first half.
Hargrove converted a three-point play with 8:53 left to put the Trojans ahead to stay, although the margin never grew beyond seven points. Mount Olive held the Crusaders to a single field goal during a four-minute stretch while Henderson's three-point play and Dory Hines' 10-foot jumper gave the Trojans a 66-59 advantage with 5:18 remaining.
Darryl Durham turned an attempted Trojan save underneath Belmont Abbey's basket into a dunk and went on to score six consecutive points for the Crusaders to cut the margin to 67-65 with 3:12 left. Belmont Abbey got as close as three before Deshaune Green's basket underneath from Hines' inbounds pass extended Mount Olive's lead to 72-67 with 1:29 remaining. The final 89 seconds would be a battle of Trojan free throws against Terrone Sheffey's field goals.
After a basket by Sheffey cut the margin back down to three, Hines hit 1-of-2 free throws with 48 seconds left to give Mount Olive a 73-69 lead. Sheffey answered with a layup with 23 seconds left, but Brite drew a quick foul and sank both free throws with 21.7 seconds left. Sheffey then hit a three-pointer with 10.8 seconds remaining to pull Belmont Abbey within 75-74.
Only 0.4 seconds went off the clock when Patterson was fouled and he hit both free throws to make the score 77-74 with 10.4 seconds remaining. Belmont Abbey missed a three-point attempt and Patterson sealed the win with two more free throws.
In the first half, three-pointers by Ewon Wright and Patterson sparked a 10-0 run to give Mount Olive a 15-5 lead with 15:08 remaining. Belmont Abbey got as close as four points, but the Trojans built the margin back to double digits as Mahamed Ibrahim's block and outlet pass led to a dunk by Green off a dish from Brite to give the Trojans a 27-17 lead with 8:42 left before halftime.
Brite helped spark a 9-2 run in a span of 46 seconds, delivering a bullet pass from the top of the key to set up Hargrove for a dunk, then finding Hargrove for a layup. Hargrove's baskets were set up by steals by Dominique Reed and Patterson.
After a steal by Hargrove, Brite's floater capped the run as Mount Olive took its biggest lead of the half at 38-22 with 2:08 remaining. Chris Davis' two free throws with 49 seconds left ended Belmont Abbey's near four-minute scoreless drought and Sheffey rattled in a three-pointer just before the buzzer to cut the Trojans' lead to 40-27 at the half.
Hines, the only Trojan starter in double figures, finished with 14 points, seven rebounds and five assists. Patterson hit 6-of-6 free throws and finished with nine points, while Henderson added eight points. Brite had six points and four assists. Hargrove pulled down six rebounds as the Trojans outrebounded Belmont Abbey 38-24. Ten different Trojans registered double digits in minutes played and all 10 players were under 30 minutes.
Good led four Belmont Abbey players in double figures with a game-high 24 points, while Davis finished with 18 points. Sheffey had 14 points and five assists, while Durham tallied 10 points and seven rebounds.
Mount Olive returns to action less than 48 hours later as the Trojans play host to Limestone in Conference Carolinas action Saturday at Kornegay Arena. Both teams' coaching staffs will wear sneakers with their suits as part of the annual Coaches vs. Cancer Suits and Sneakers Weekend. The program is designed to draw attention to the importance of nutrition and physical activity in the fight against cancer. Tip-off is 4 p.m.