Dontrell Brite scored 17 of his game-high 22 points in the first half and Jordan McCain eclipsed the career 1,000-point mark as No. 18 University of Mount Olive withstood a series of second-half rallies to defeat North Greenville University 74-67 in Conference Carolinas men's basketball Monday at Tigerville, S.C. McCain finished with 19 points to give him 1,004 points for his career. The win was the Trojans' fifth in a row.
Mount Olive (16-2 overall, 9-1 Conference Carolinas) led by as many as 14 points in the first half, but saw an eight-point halftime lead sliced to a field goal early in the second half. After McCain answered a North Greenville basket by Spencer Reaves to keep the lead at eight, Reaves came back with a three-pointer to trigger a Crusader run. Korval McElroy made a steal and a pair of free throws to cut the Trojans' lead to 43-41 with 15:14 left to play.
Kendall Hargrove and Mike Moore combined on a 9-0 run to push the Trojan lead back to double digits. Hargrove's putback slam dunk on a missed three-pointer started the run and Moore finished the run with seven straight points to extend Mount Olive's lead to 52-41 with 12:14 remaining.
North Greenville (10-6, 5-5) held Mount Olive to a single free throw over the next four minutes and Troy Blyden's jumper with 8:13 left pulled the Crusaders within 53-50. Brite sank a pair of free throws and Moore ended Mount Olive's field goal drought as the Trojans answered with a 6-0 run.
The lead returned to double digits on Hargrove's backdoor two-handed slam dunk down the left baseline and after a North Greenville basket, McCain hit a three-pointer with 2:33 remaining for point number 1,001 and a 69-58 Trojan lead.
"I knew I was close (to 1,000 points)," said McCain. "My parents kept telling me and my friends kept telling me. I just let the offense come to me."
McCain hit a pair of free throws with 90 seconds left after a Crusader basket to keep the Trojans' lead at 11. North Greenville made one final run as Phillip Brown hit a three-pointer and McElroy hit a layup after a Trojan turnover. Mount Olive missed a free throw and Lashawn Alexander's putback drew the Crusaders within 71-67 with 31 seconds left.
Hargrove drew a quick foul and hit both free throws. North Greenville turned the ball over and missed a field goal attempt on its next two possessions as Mount Olive held on for the win.
Mount Olive led the entire first half and took its biggest lead with 10:25 remaining after Tayon Gleaves' three-pointer gave the Trojans a 23-9 advantage. North Greenville used a pair of three-pointers by Reaves to chip away at the lead and pull within 30-25 with 4:17 left.
Brite answered with a three-pointer and Moore's jumper pushed the margin back to double figures at 37-27 with 1:52 left before halftime. North Greenville sandwiched a pair of baskets around a Brite jumper to cut the Trojans' lead to 39-31 at the break.
Brite was 7-of-12 from the field overall and 3-of-5 from three-point range in the first half.
Moore, who had missed a week of action due to an injury, finished with 11 points off the bench for the Trojans. Hargrove narrowly missed a double-double with nine points and 11 rebounds. Brite dished out a game-high six assists.
Reaves and McElroy scored 18 points apiece for North Greenville, while Alexander recorded a double-double with 14 points and 10 rebounds for the Crusaders.
Mount Olive hosts a pair of Conference Carolinas contests this weekend at Kornegay Arena. The Trojans take on King Friday at 7:30 p.m., then face Lees-McRae Saturday at 2 p.m. Friday's contest is "Trojan Blackout Night" with fans encouraged to wear black to the game. The first 500 fans will receive a free t-shirt, courtesy Piggly Wiggly of Mount Olive.