Mount Olive sophomore Ewon Wright scored a season-high 21 points, including five three-pointers, to lead the Trojans to a 72-60 Conference Carolinas men's basketball win Saturday afternoon at Kornegay Arena. Derek Staton added 14 points in the contest, and the Trojans made 13-of-16 free throws in the final five minutes to seal the victory.
The Trojans (2-3 Conference Carolinas, 9-6 overall) complemented Wright's outside shooting by dominating the boards against a taller Bobcat squad that featured four players six-foot-seven or taller. Mount Olive outrebounded Lees-McRae, 34-26, led by senior Kason Cheeks who finished with nine rebounds, five offensive, and eight points.
In the first half, however, the Trojans struggled from the field, shooting just 33 percent in the opening 20 minutes. Wright's three, three-pointers helped his team head to the locker room at halftime in a 33-33 deadlock. Led by D. J. Brown's nine points, Lees-McRae (3-2, 3-10) was able to survive falling behind 9-2 at the outset.
Wright missed a career best by just two points. His previous best this season was nine, both coming during Mount Olive's recent road trip.
The Bobcats took their final lead of the contest on a lay-up by James Saint Marc with 11:33 remaining. Mount Olive outscored Lees-McRae 26-13 the rest of the way.
Dory Hines' first points of the game, a pair of free throws gave the Trojans the lead for good. Moments later, Kendall Hargrove stole a pass at midcourt then raced to the basket for a dunk that turned the momentum in favor of the Trojans. In the second half, the Trojans hit 53 percent from the field, including four-of-eight three-pointers.
Mount Olive's lead grew to as much as 16 before the final horn. Craig Hayes converted five free throws down the stretch while Hargrove, Staton and Hines all contributed at the charity stripe in the waning minutes.
Lees-McRae was paced by Asad Lamot's 20 points and six assists. Brown added 15 points, all from three-point range.
The Trojans return to action Wednesday when St. Andrews comes to Kornegay Arena. The women's game will start at 5:30 p.m. The men will play at 7:30 p.m