Three-pointers by Dontrell Brite and Ewon Wright in the final 29 seconds cut a nine-point deficit down to three, but University of Mount Olive's rally came up short as the Trojans fell to North Greenville University 97-91 in Conference Carolinas men's basketball Saturday at Tigerville, S.C. Brite led the Trojans with 20 points and six assists.
Mount Olive outscored North Greenville 24-9 from three-point range, but the Crusaders outscored the Trojans 34-11 from the free throw line.
Mount Olive (8-6 overall, 2-2 Conference Carolinas) built a 13-point lead early in the second half before North Greenville (8-5, 3-2) used an 18-2 run to take a 60-57 lead. Chris Dean's three-point play with 14:12 remaining tied the game and Thomas Horn's three-pointer 17 seconds later gave the Crusaders their first lead of the second half.
The Trojans rallied to tie the game and Mike Moore's three-point play highlighted a 7-0 run as Mount Olive built a 76-69 advantage with 8:35 left to play. North Greenville came back with nine unanswered points to regain the lead. The Trojans tied the game again 81-81 with 4:08 remaining after Kyle Rhoades sank a pair of free throws. But North Greenville went back on top on Phillip Brown's short jumper with 3:47 left and the Crusaders led the rest of the way.
North Greenville took its biggest lead at 92-83 after Chris Dean hit two free throws with 48 seconds remaining. Brite connected on a pair of free throws for Mount Olive with 40 seconds left and after a Crusader turnover, hit a three-pointer with 29 seconds remaining to pull the Trojans within 92-88.
After North Greenville hit two more free throws, Brite found Wright for a three-pointer to draw Mount Olive within 94-91 with 19 seconds left. But that's as close as the Trojans would get as the Crusaders hit 3-of-4 free throws down the stretch to seal the win.
Mount Olive broke away from a four-point halftime lead as Brite and Jordan McCain combined for nine points during an 11-2 run to start the second half. Brite hit a pair of jumpers and McCain's three-pointer with 17:43 left gave the Trojans their biggest lead of the game at 55-42. Keith Johnson hit a layup on North Greenville's next possession to trigger the Crusaders' scoring run to get back in the game.
Mount Olive scored the first six points of the game and extended the lead to 16-9 after Wright's three-pointer with 15:10 remaining. The Trojans were held to just one field goal for more than four minutes and North Greenville took its first lead with 10:57 left after Horn's layup put the Crusaders on top 20-19.
After two lead changes and two ties, McCain's three-pointer with 8:09 left before halftime broke a 28-28 tie and put the Trojans ahead for the remainder of the half. Mount Olive took its biggest lead of the half at 42-34 on John Wieland's three-pointer with 3:30 remaining and the Trojans led 44-40 at the break.
McCain finished with 16 points and eight rebounds for Mount Olive, while Wieland and Kendall Hargrove added 10 points apiece. Trojan career assists leader Dory Hines matched Brite with six assists. The Trojans were 11-for-20 from the free throw line.
Johnson led North Greenville with game highs of 26 points and seven assists. Brown notched a double-double with 23 points and 17 rebounds, and went 11-for-13 from the free throw line. As a team, the Crusaders were 34-of-41 from the line.
Mount Olive returns to action Wednesday as the Trojans travel to Due West, S.C., to take on Erskine in a Conference Carolinas match-up. Tip-off is 7:30 p.m.