Dontrell Brite scored a career-high 28 points and hit five three-pointers, including a 30-footer in the final minutes as the shot clock expired as nationally 16th-ranked University Mount Olive withstood a torrid rally for an 87-78 victory over No. 21 King University in Conference Carolinas men's basketball Friday at Kornegay Arena. The Trojans saw a 17-point second-half lead sliced down to a single point late in the game.
The win extends the Trojans' winning streak to six and avenges Mount Olive's loss at King on national television earlier this year, as well as moves the Trojans into a tie with the Tornado for the conference lead. The loss was King's first in conference play and snapped the Tornado's nine-game winning streak.
After leading by three at halftime, Mount Olive (17-2 overall, 10-1 Conference Carolinas) built its first double-digit lead after Brite's steal and layup with 15:34 left to play gave the Trojans a 56-46 lead. The margin stayed in double figures and successive three-pointers by JaQuan Blount, Brite and Jordan McCain extended the Trojans' lead to 73-56 with 10:42 remaining.
King's Hunter LeVeau, who matched Brite with 28 points, hit four three-pointers and scored all of the points in a 14-5 run to pull the Tornado within 78-70 with 7:44 left to play. Mount Olive was held to a single free throw over the next four-plus minutes as King chipped away at the Trojans' lead.
Logan Lyle hit all three free throws after getting fouled on a three-point attempt and LeVeau's three-pointer with 4:25 left pulled King within 79-78. Blount hit a layup for Mount Olive with 3:20 remaining and the Trojans stopped the Tornado on their next two possessions as Kendall Hargrove pulled down a defensive rebound with just over two minutes remaining.
On Mount Olive's ensuing possession, the shot clock got down to one second when Brite fired from 10 feet above the top of the key and hit all net to extend the Trojans' lead to 84-78 with 1:35 left to play. After another defensive stop, Brite sank a pair of free throws with 49 seconds remaining to help seal the win.
The game was part of Mount Olive's first-ever "Trojan Blackout Night" as the Trojans wore black uniforms and the majority of the near-1,000 in attendance wore black. Brite says the fan support was a key to Friday's win.
"The difference between when we played there and here is when they made runs (in the first meeting) we gave up," said Brite. "We didn't give up tonight. The crowd was great to play in front of tonight."
In the first half, three straight three-pointers by King (15-3, 10-1) gave the Tornado a 9-2 lead less than two minutes into the contest. An alley-oop two-handed dunk by Hargrove off a 25-foot lob from Brite triggered a Mount Olive run and a three-pointer by Brite gave the Trojans a 13-11 lead with 14:08 remaining.
The lead changed hands six times before Hargrove's layup off of Blount's offensive rebound put Mount Olive ahead to stay 25-24 with 9:59 left in the first half. The Trojans built the lead to 45-37 after Brite hit a three-pointer with 1:49 remaining. Drew Standifer answered with a three for King and Mikquell Jackson's putback at the buzzer pulled the Tornado within 45-42 at halftime.
Brite narrowly missed a double-double, dishing out a game-high nine assists. McCain added 16 points on 7-for-11 shooting, while Blount flirted with a triple-double with 12 points, seven rebounds and seven assists. Reed added 12 points and shared game-high honors with seven boards. He also blocked three shots.
LeVeau hit 7-of-10 three-pointers for King, including a 40-footer as the shot clock expired during the Tornado's comeback. Lyle added 15 points, while C.J. Good had seven assists.
Mount Olive concludes its weekend homestand Saturday as the Trojans play host to Lees-McRae in a Conference Carolinas match-up. Mount Olive won 80-69 in the two teams' first meeting January 4 at Lees-McRae. Tip-off is 4 p.m. at Kornegay Arena.