Dominique Reed scored seven of his team-high 23 points in the final two-plus minutes of the game, including a tie-breaking basket with 44 seconds left to put University of Mount Olive ahead to stay as the Trojans snapped a four-game losing skid with an 87-83 victory on the road against Augusta University Sunday at Augusta, Ga. Reed went 8-for-10 from the field and a perfect 7-for-7 from the free throw line.
Reed says the team put past results out of their minds and focused on Sunday's game.
"We came in with a mindset to get the W today," said Reed, a senior forward from Garner, N.C. "We weren't worried about the last four games."
Mount Olive (3-4) trailed 75-74 with 3:58 left to play after Augusta's Keshun Sherrill hit a three-pointer for the Jaguars. Jaquan Blount retrieved an offensive rebound beyond the arc on Mount Olive's next possession and knocked down a three from the right wing to put the Trojans back on top. Mount Olive did not trail again, but would not be able to put away the Jaguars until the final half minute.
After Augusta (2-2) tied the game on a jumper by Sherrill, Reed knocked down a pair of free throws, then answered a Jaguar free throw with a three-point play to give the Trojans an 82-78 lead with 1:59 remaining. The 6-6 Reed capitalized on a size advantage inside throughout the game.
"They had players in foul trouble, so I was trying to get to the free throw line if I could.," said Reed.
The Trojans' lead was short-lived as Sherrill hit a pair of free throws and Tommy Williams took a pass in the paint and slipped a defender for a dunk to tie the game 82-82 with 1:07 left.
After scoring all of his points from either inside the paint or the free throw line, Reed was positioned left of the lane when he took a pass from Dontrell Brite with less than 10 seconds left on the shot clock. Reed turned around and banked a 10-foot jumper as Mount Olive regained the lead for good.
Reed admitted that not only was the outside bank shot not a designed play, it was unchartered territory for himself.
"My teammates did a good job of moving the ball around," said Reed. "I've practiced that shot during practice and during shootaround, but I think that's the first time I used that shot in a game."
Blount made a steal on Augusta's ensuing possession and hit 1-of-2 free throws to give Mount Olive a three-point lead. Augusta played for the last shot and got the offensive rebound on a missed three-point attempt. The Trojans were whistled for a foul on the follow-up attempt, but only 0.8 seconds remained in the game. The Jaguars missed the first attempt, then hit the second attempt. Blount got the inbounds pass to Brite who was fouled and sank a pair of free throws with 0.2 seconds remaining to seal the win.
Mike Moore, who was held to a single field goal in the first half, helped Mount Olive break away from a halftime tie, scoring seven points in the first four minutes of the second half as the Trojans built a 54-48 lead. Augusta tied the game on back-to-back three-pointers by Sherrill, but Moore answered with his second three of the half to put the Trojans back on top with 13:14 left. Mount Olive trailed only once more for the remainder of the game.
Sunday's contest got off to an auspicious start for Mount Olive as Augusta won the opening tip and finished with a dunk seven seconds into the game. The Trojans responded on their first possession as Brite found Blount wide open underneath for an uncontested basket.
Mount Olive trailed 24-17 with 9:44 left in the first half when the Trojan defense sparked a comeback. After Jacque Brown's steal led to a three-pointer by John Wieland, Reed stripped the ball and Brite took the ball all the way from the backcourt for a driving layup to complete an 8-0 run and give the Trojans the lead.
Three-pointers by Blount and Brite on back-to-back possessions gave Mount Olive its biggest lead of the half at 37-33 with 2:06 remaining. Sherrill drew a foul with 1.7 seconds left and hit both free throws to tie the game 40-40 at halftime. The tie was the eighth of the half and one of 12 for the game.
Brite finished with 20 points and seven assists for Mount Olive, while Blount added 17 points. Moore tallied 15 points and eight rebounds. The Trojans shot 53.3 percent (32-for-60) from the field and 82.4 percent (14-for-17) from the line.
Sherrill led all players with 34 points for Augusta.
The game was a rematch of the opening round of last year's NCAA Division II Southeast Regional. Mount Olive won that contest 84-75 on its way to the regional title and a trip to the Elite Eight. The win was Mount Olive's third in a row over Augusta and first on the Jaguars' home floor since the Trojans reclassified to NCAA Division II in 1995.
Reed said head coach Joey Higginbotham talked about last year's regional prior to Sunday's game.
"Coach told us they're a new team and we're a new team this year," said Reed. "We can't play off of last year's identity. We need to get our own identity and not worry about the past so much."
Mount Olive returns to Conference Carolinas play Tuesday as the Trojans play host to Southern Wesleyan. Mount Olive won both meetings last season. Tip-off is 7:30 p.m. at Kornegay Arena.