Mike Moore scored the first 10 points of the game and finished with a career-high 27 points as top-seeded and nationally ninth-ranked University of Mount Olive defeated No. 4 seed Pfeiffer 83-74 in the semifinal round of the 2015 Conference Carolinas Men's Basketball Tournament Saturday at Kornegay Arena. The Trojans led by as many as 23 points late in the second half before Pfeiffer hit a barrage of three-pointers to cut the final margin to single digits. The win extends Mount Olive's school record winning streak to 17 games and moves the Trojans into Sunday's Championship Game.
The Trojans will face No. 3 seed North Greenville University, which held on for a 59-56 victory over second-seeded King University. Sunday's tip-off is 2 p.m. at Kornegay Arena.
Moore hit a pair of fastbreak layups and back-to-back three-pointers to give Mount Olive (28-2) a 10-0 lead with 16:15 left in the first half. Pfeiffer (16-12) pulled within 12-6 on DeVonte Jenkins' dunk with 12:36 remaining, but the Falcons never got any closer than six points the remainder of the contest.
Kendall Hargrove's tip-in on his own miss pushed the margin back to double digits at 23-12 with 8:58 left before halftime. The lead grew to as many as 14 points before Pfeiffer drew within 34-26 with 2:11 remaining on A.J. Clark's layup. After a Trojan 30-second timeout, Dontrell Brite connected on a three-pointer to give Mount Olive a 37-26 lead.
The two teams traded points over the final 90 seconds of the half as Moore hit a jumper in the paint with 23 seconds remaining. Jenkins closed out the half with a jumper for Pfeiffer to cut Mount Olive's lead to 41-32 at halftime. Moore had 17 points in the first half.
Hargrove's steal and layup pushed Mount Olive's lead back to 11 and Moore followed with a three-pointer to extend the Trojans' lead to 46-32 with 18:21 left to play. The margin stayed in double figures until the final seconds of the contest.
Mount Olive's lead reached the 20-point mark for the first time with 6:58 remaining after Brite chased down a loose ball on what was going to be a Pfeiffer backcourt violation and found James Rucker for an uncontested dunk to give the Trojans a 69-48 lead. Moore's dunk off a steal by Jordan McCain gave the Trojans their biggest lead at 71-48 with 6:25 left in the contest.
Pfeiffer hit four three-pointers in a span of two minutes, but never got the margin back to single digits until Andrew Guerrero's layup with six seconds left for the final score.
Moore finished 11-for-18 from the field and led four Trojans in double figures. Brite and McCain added 14 points apiece, while Hargrove recorded his 10th double-double of the season with 11 points and 11 rebounds. McCain and JaQuan Blount each dished out five assists, while Brite finished with four assists and a game-high five steals. Brite enters Sunday's game one assist from tying and two assists from breaking Dory Hines' school record of 174 assists in a season.
Clark nearly had a triple-double for Pfeiffer, finishing with 20 points, 10 rebounds and a game-high seven assists. Four Falcons scored in double figures.
In the second semifinal, King (24-6) rallied from a 14-point deficit to take a 43-42 lead with 9:06 left to play on Logan Lyle's three-pointer. North Greenville (21-9) regained the lead on its ensuing possession on Lashawn Alexander's layup and the Crusaders led for the remainder of the contest. Prior to this season, North Greenville had not advanced past the first round of the Conference Carolinas Tournament since joining the conference in 2011-12.
Mount Olive swept this year's regular season series against North Greenville, winning 74-67 at Tigerville, S.C., and 75-65 at Kornegay Arena. Sunday's winner earns an automatic bid to the 2015 NCAA Division II Southeast Regional.