University of Mount Olive built a 22-point halftime lead and was never threatened as the top-seeded and nationally 10th-ranked Trojans defeated No. 8 seed Erskine College 83-55 in the quarterfinal round of the 2015 Conference Carolinas Men's Basketball Tournament Saturday at Kornegay Arena. The win - Mount Olive's school record 16th in a row - assures the Trojans of hosting the conference tournament semifinals and championship game next weekend.
Mount Olive (27-2) will play in the first semifinal next Saturday at 2 p.m. against No. 4 seed Pfeiffer. The second semifinal will follow and will pit No. 2 seed King against No. 3 seed North Greenville. The Championship Game is slated for next Sunday at 2 p.m. at Kornegay Arena.
Dontrell Brite and Jaquan Blount each hit a three-pointer to give Mount Olive an early 6-2 lead as the Trojans led from the start. Mike Moore's one-handed putback dunk with 13:30 left in the first half gave Mount Olive its first double-digit lead at 14-4.
Erskine (9-20) got as close as eight points after a layup by Brandon Wilkerson, but Kendall Hargrove's baseline dunk pushed Mount Olive's lead back to 10 and the margin stayed in double figures for the remainder of the contest.
The lead reached the 20-point mark for the first time when Brite's skip pass from the right win found Jordan McCain for a three-pointer from the left corner to give the Trojans a 38-17 advantage with 2:09 left before halftime. The margin ballooned to 25 after Hargrove capped a 10-0 run with a layup and another dunk.
Erskine's Arvel Atwater hit a three-pointer with 26 seconds left to cut the Trojans' lead to 42-20 at intermission.
Hargrove put down a pair of slam dunks early in the second half, the second coming off an alley-oop from Brite, as Mount Olive built the lead to 47-20. The margin never fell below 22 points the rest of the way.
Hargrove led four Trojans in double figures with 16 points on 7-of-8 shooting, while Wieland and Dominique Reed each added 11 points off the bench. Brite finished with 10 points and game highs of eight assists and four steals.
Mount Olive shot 63.0 percent (29-for-46) from the field, including 56.3 percent (9-for-16) from three-point range. The Trojans hit 5-of-7 three-point attempts in the second half.
Erskine was led by Isaac Williamson with 10 points.
Mount Olive is seeking its first Conference Carolinas championship and NCAA Tournament appearance since 2010. The conference tournament champion earns an automatic bid to the NCAA II Southeast Regional. The Trojans are ranked No. 1 in this week's NCAA II Southeast Region Top 10.