Dontrell Brite scored a career high 30 points and made Mount Olive College a real tough exhibition opponent for the East Carolina University Pirates Sunday afternoon, but it proved to not be enough as the Trojans lose a nail bitter 77-75 in Minges Coliseum. Kendall Hargrove posted 14 points with 10 rebounds good enough for his first double-double on the season. Dominique Reed added 12 points and nine rebounds. Dory Hines contributed six points, five rebounds and seven assists.
Mount Olive (5-3) out-shot East Carolina (8-2) in Field goal, three-point, and free-throw percentage. In the paint the Trojans would out-score the Pirates 38-32.
In front of a loud crowd Mount Olive took the first points in the contest as a jumper by Brite gave the Trojans a 2-0 lead.
The game would only be tied once more as Dominique Reed tied the game up at 4 with 17:24 left to go in the first half.
East Carolina did not relinquish the lead for sixteen and half minutes leading by as many as 10.
The Trojans started to make their comeback late in the first period as a long three point jumper from Jordan McCain with 2:04 left brought Mount Olive to within three as they trailed the Pirates 36-33.
Reed used a layup off the Brite assist and a steal of his own followed by a dunk to give Mount Olive their first lead since 19:19.
Akeem Richmond made two free throws for East Carolina with 44 seconds remaining to give them the lead again at 38-37.
Reed regained the lead for Mount Olive with a put back jumper with just 0:33.
A last second three point shot by Richmond would be off the mark and the Trojans headed into the half with the 39-38 lead.
The second half proved to be a tightly fought game between the two teams as the lead did not grow beyond four for either, Mount Olive nor East Carolina. The score was also tied nine times in the second half alone.
Brite scored 16 of his 30 career high points in the second half and of those, 12 came in a just under two minute stretch. It began at 11:41 to go where he drain back to back three pointers. He followed the long balls up by converting two three point plays as two Pirates fouled him driving into the paint. Mount Olive led 60-56 and it was their largest lead of the half with 9:45 remaining.
Brite broke the 62 all tie with a jumper off the Josh Hicks assist giving the Trojans a 64-62 lead with just 7:42.
Brite scored his record setting point off the Hines assist and gave Mount Olive the 73-72 lead with 3:21 left in the game. Brite commented on his amazing night.
"It felt like everything was falling and my teammates kept finding me".
"I treat them like a regular team, they have to guard just like we have to guard them" said Brite when talking about what it was like to play a Division I opponent. Brite finished the afternoon by going 12-for-20 from the field and 3-for-8 from beyond the arch.
Reed gave Mount Olive a slim one point lead with 1:27 left as his tip-in gave the Trojans the lead 75-74.
Richmond tied the game for the last time when he hit a free throw with 1:19.
McCain and Brite both fouled and the Pirates would go to the foul line and go 2-for-4 and give East Carolina a 77-75 lead with six seconds to go.
Hines drove into the paint and tried to tie the game up as time expired but Brandon Stith blocked the layup and the Trojans dropped a tough one to East Carolina 77-75. Mount Olive will stay at 5-3 due to this game being an exhibition and not counting towards the season for the Trojans, East Carolina will improve to 8-2 overall.
Hines, the Kinston, N.C. native, faced a homecoming in the battle against the Pirates as he grew up just 30 minutes away from Greenville.
"It felt very good to have the community come watch me play. It felt like I was home even though it was a different atmosphere" said Hines about what it was like to play in front of many of his fans who traveled to watch him play.
Hargrove, a junior from Woodbridge, Va., spoke about his night after coming close twice in recent games against Virginia State and USC-Aiken and what it was like to play East Carolina.
"It felt great to get the double-double. It is just like coach said they are another team and we have to play it just like it were another conference game, just don't think about it and play your game".
Head Coach Joey Higginbotham in the post-game interview spoke about the team's performance and what he took away from playing a tough opponent like East Carolina.
"We learned a lot of things; Dontrell (Brite) had a great game. We executed better, we guarded better; the whole thing was to build off this and make the team better and we did that".
Coach Higginbotham also talked about what it was like to play a high intensity opponent in the middle of the season as compared to preseason and how it affects your team.
"It's a lot different because we have a lot more stuff in. We've got what we are doing and how we are going to guard, whereas if you go play them early in the year they are a lot more ahead of us than we are because of when they can start and what they can do. We are a better team playing them now then earlier in the year. The whole thing we wanted was to not get outworked and I don't think we got outworked both halves. We outworked them both halves. It was a good team effort and we are leaving here a better team and a tighter group".
Richmond scored 16 points for East Carolina going 11-for-14 from the charity stripe. Stith finished with 13 points and grabbed nine rebounds. Antonio Robinson also had 15 points and four rebounds.
Sunday's contest marked a back-to-back weekend turn around for the Trojans as they Hosted USC-Aiken last night.
Mount Olive remains idle until they travel to Murfreesboro, N.C. to play the Hawks of Chowan University in a non-conference match-up. Tip-off is set for 7:30pm.