Dontrell Brite led four players in double figures with 19 points and hit 5-of-6 free throws in the final minute to thwart a late rally as University of Mount Olive defeated Virginia State University 74-69 in the opening night of the 49th Annual Pickle Classic Friday at Kornegay Arena. The Trojans led by as many as 16 in the second half.
Mount Olive (4-0) led by nine at halftime and Mike Moore's three-pointer helped the Trojans take their biggest lead at 47-31 with 14:55 left in the contest. Virginia State (1-2) cut the margin back to single digits after Tyler Peterson's three-pointer with 13:09 remaining capped an 8-0 run.
Mount Olive pushed the margin back to double digits and Jordan McCain's layup out of a timeout gave the Trojans a 59-43 lead with 9:12 left. Lamar Kearse sparked a Virginia State rally with a layup and three-pointer and VSU pulled within 69-64 on Kenneth Pankey's three with 1:18 remaining.
Brite sank a pair of free throws with 57 seconds left and after Kearse hit a pair for VSU, Brite hit two more with 38 seconds remaining. Brite added another free throw with 24 seconds left. Pankey hit another three for Virginia State with 12 seconds left to close out the scoring.
Mount Olive built an 18-11 lead with 10:38 left in the first half after Brite sliced through the lane to finish a length-of-the-court drive. Virginia State came back with eight unanswered points as Elijah Moore's steal and layup gave VSU its only lead at 19-18 with 6:03 remaining before halftime.
Jordan McCain hit a three-pointer on Mount Olive's next possession to trigger a 10-0 run and put the Trojans back on top to stay. The Trojans capped the run in spectacular fashion as Blount made a steal and while face down on the floor, pushed the ball ahead to Kendall Hargrove, who finished with a two-hand overhead slam dunk to give Mount Olive a 28-19 advantage with 4:09 remaining.
Blount scored six straight points to give Mount Olive its first double-digit lead at 36-25 with 35 seconds left. Kearse hit a layup with nine seconds remaining to pull Virginia State within 36-27 at halftime.
McCain finished with 16 points off the bench, while Blount and Dominique Reed added 13 points apiece. Hargrove pulled down eight rebounds, Brite dished out six assists, Blount recorded six steals and Reed notched a career-high seven blocked shots.
Kearse led all players with 27 points for Virginia State. Moore added 12 points for VSU.
In the opening game, Barton College defeated Bluefield State College 101-72. Danny Shand's three-pointer just before the halftime buzzer and Kendall Patterson's three-pointer at the start of the second half capped a 33-6 run that broke the game open.
Prior to the Mount Olive-Virginia State game, a moment of silence was observed for George Kornegay, who passed away Friday morning. George Kornegay created the University of Mount Olive Foundation and was a longtime avid supporter of UMO and UMO Athletics.
The Pickle Classic concludes Saturday with another doubleheader at Kornegay Arena. Barton takes on Virginia State at 5 p.m., followed by Mount Olive vs. Bluefield State at 7:30 p.m.