JaQuan Blount set up Mike Moore's go-ahead basket with a steal with just over 90 seconds left to play and blocked a potential game-tying three-point attempt with four seconds remaining to seal regionally seventh-ranked University of Mount Olive's 66-63 victory over North Greenville University in Conference Carolinas men's basketball Saturday at Tigerville, S.C. The win was the Trojans' seventh in their last eight games. Saturday's contest was a rematch of the championship game of last year's Conference Carolinas Tournament.
Mount Olive (9-5 overall, 4-2 Conference Carolinas) erased a nine-point first-half deficit and led by as many as 11 points late in the second half before North Greenville (3-8, 1-4) used a 13-1 run to take a 63-62 lead with 2:03 left to play. The Crusaders had a chance to add to their lead after Mount Olive turned the ball over on its next possession, but Blount stripped the ball on a North Greenville layup attempt and Moore beat the defense downcourt for an uncontested layup to give the Trojans a 64-63 lead with 1:32 remaining.
After the two teams exchanged missed shot attempts, Dontrell Brite stole the ball near the North Greenville bench with 14 seconds left, then sank a pair of free throws four seconds later to give the Trojans a three-point lead. The Crusaders got the ball across halfcourt and called timeout with five seconds remaining. North Greenville's Korval McElroy, who hit one of the Crusaders' seven three-pointers on the night, attempted a three through a double team, but Blount blocked the shot and grabbed the rebound as time expired.
Mount Olive trailed 28-19 with 8:50 left in the first half, but rallied to take a 40-36 halftime lead. A three-pointer and a dunk by Brite highlighted a 7-0 run to give the Trojans their biggest lead at 61-50 with 7:33 left in the contest. Mount Olive would go the next six minutes without a field goal.
North Greenville pulled within 62-61 with 2:46 remaining after Jai Jencks hit a three-pointer from the top of the key off of an inbounds pass. After a defensive stop, the Crusaders regained the lead on the ensuing possession after McElroy connected on a pair of free throws.
The Trojans were outrebounded 44-27, but outscored the Crusaders 25-2 in points off turnovers. Mount Olive committed only three turnovers for the game.
Brite led all players with 22 points and Moore added 21 points as the duo combined for 43 of the Trojans' 63 points. Brite hit 4-of-8 three-pointers, while Moore was 10-for-20 from the field. Blount finished with six points, six rebounds, six assists and five steals.
McElroy notched a double-double for North Greenville with 16 points and a game-high 14 rebounds to go with five assists.
Mount Olive plays its first home game in more than a month Wednesday as the Trojans play host to Emmanuel in Conference Carolinas action. The Trojans rallied from a 19-point second-half deficit to defeat the Lions 72-69 last Saturday at Franklin Springs, Ga. Tip-off is 7:30 p.m. at Kornegay Arena.