Mahamed Ibrahim's block on one end and dunk on the other end served as a wakeup call as Mount Olive overcame a slow start for a 69-53 victory over Pfeiffer in Conference Carolinas men's basketball Tuesday at Kornegay Arena. Mount Olive's win, plus losses Tuesday by Belmont Abbey and Erskine, keep the Trojans' hopes alive to host a first round game in next week's Conference Carolinas Tournament.
Mount Olive (14-11 overall, 11-8 Conference Carolinas) spotted Pfeiffer the first six points of the game and the Trojans still trailed 12-6 when Ibrahim brought the team and the Kornegay Arena crowd to life. Ibrahim blocked a layup attempt and got his own rebound. He sent an outlet pass to Patterson, who gave it back in the front court to Ibrahim, who had run the floor and finished the play with a thunderous slam dunk with 13:12 left in the first half.
A pair of free throws by Ewon Wright tied the game and Dory Hines' dunk off a Jordan McCain steal gave Mount Olive its first lead at 16-14 with 10:32 remaining before halftime. The Trojans led the remainder of the contest.
Back to back three-pointers by Wright stretched Mount Olive's lead to 31-22. Wright added another three and a pair of free throws to score the final five points of the half and give the Trojans a 38-26 halftime lead. Wright scored all of his team-high 13 points in the first half.
Mount Olive scored the first 10 points of the second half as Dontrell Brite's steal and layup capped a 15-0 run across each half to give the Trojans a 48-26 lead with 17:47 left to play. The margin grew to as many as 26 points before Pfeiffer (4-22, 2-17) chipped away in the final six minutes.
Brite scored nine of his 12 points in the second half for Mount Olive. Ibrahim finished with three blocked shots, while Gaffney added two blocks.
A.J. Clark led all scorers with 15 points for Pfeiffer, while Joe Ledbetter added 10 points.
Mount Olive is tied with Queens for fifth place in the conference standings, one game behind Belmont Abbey and a half-game ahead of Erskine with one game remaining. Mount Olive holds the tie-breaker advantage in both a two-way tie with Belmont Abbey and a three-way tie with Belmont Abbey and Queens.
Mount Olive concludes regular season play Friday as the Trojans travel to Wilson, N.C., to take on Barton in Conference Carolinas action. Mount Olive won the first meeting 80-75 January 31 at Kornegay Arena. Tip-off is 7:30 p.m., after the conclusion of Trojan women's basketball at Barton.
A Trojan win and a Belmont Abbey loss Friday at Coker gives Mount Olive the No. 4 seed and a first round game against the No. 5 seed Monday at Kornegay Arena. A Trojan loss will send Mount Olive on the road in the first round as the No. 5, No. 6 or No. 7 seed.