Freshman Dontrell Brite hit three 3-pointers and scored 11 of his career-high 16 points during a 17-6 run midway through the second half as Mount Olive rallied for an 80-75 victory over nationally 12th-ranked Barton in Conference Carolinas men's basketball Thursday at Kornegay Arena. The Trojans electrified the crowd of 1,172 with their eighth win in their last nine games second win in as many contests this season against nationally ranked opponents.
Mount Olive (9-8 overall, 6-5 Conference Carolinas) trailed by three at halftime and still trailed through the midway point of the second half before Brite triggered the Trojans' rally. After Brite's floater in the lane with 9:13 left to play pulled Mount Olive within 54-53, he followed with a three-pointer just 15 seconds later that put the Trojans back on top 56-54. The Trojans would never trail again.
Play was delayed during Barton's ensuing possession when a battle on the floor for a loose ball led to a double technical after a lengthy discussion among the officials. Mount Olive extended its lead to three before Barton (14-3, 9-2) tied the game 58-58 on Chris Flemmings' three-pointer with 7:34 remaining.
Dory Hines' 12-foot jumper broke the tie on Mount Olive's next possession and the Trojans led the rest of the way. Brite put home a slam dunk after Mike Moore's steal, then hit a three-pointer from the left corner to give Mount Olive a 65-58 lead with 6:29 remaining.
Mount Olive appeared to be on its way to sealing the win when Darrell Patterson's three-pointer with 2:21 left gave the Trojans a three-possession lead at 71-63. But Gerald Boston and Brian McNair each connected on a pair of free throws to draw the Bulldogs within four with 1:33 left to play.
Barton had a chance to cut the margin to two with under a minute left, but missed a pair of free throws after a Trojan foul. Patterson knocked down a pair of free throws for Mount Olive to give the Trojans a 73-67 lead with 54 seconds left.
The Trojans' lead grew to seven, but Flemmings was fouled on a three-point attempt and hit all three free throws to pull Barton within 75-71 with 28 seconds remaining. Mahammed Ibrahim sandwiched a perfect 4-of-4 free throws for Mount Olive around a Bulldog free throw to give the Trojans a 79-72 lead with 20 seconds left, but McNair answered with a three for Barton four seconds later to make it a 79-75 game.
Mount Olive had to burn its final two timeouts to inbound the ball with 13 seconds left before Caleb Henderson hit 1-of-2 free throws after being fouled away from the ball. A missed Barton three-point attempt led to a tie-up near midcourt with 0.5 seconds left and the possession arrow was in Mount Olive's favor as the Trojans pulled out the win.
In the first half, Mount Olive trailed by as many as six points Patterson gave the Trojans their first lead at 20-18 with 9:27 left on a three-pointer that bounced high off the back of the rim through the net. Patterson followed with another three and Ewon Wright's three-pointer capped a 15-3 run to give Mount Olive its biggest lead of the game at 30-21 with 6:32 remaining.
Barton answered with a run of its own on Keith Manley's dunk and Zach Faircloth's three-pointer, and Rodrick Chandler's layup with 4:13 left pulled Barton within 31-30. Boston, who started the run with a pair of free throws, had the assists on all three field goals.
After Barton regained the lead, Brite's layup with 2:10 remaining put Mount Olive back on top 35-34. But the Trojans were held scoreless for the remainder of the half and went into the locker room trailing 38-35 at halftime.
Patterson finished with 15 points for Mount Olive as he and Brite combined for 31 of the Trojans' 41 bench points. Ibrahim added 12 points, while Hines fouled out just shy of the first triple-double in Trojan men's basketball history. For the second time this season, Hines finished with 10 points, nine rebound and nine assists. Patterson and Deshaune Green pulled down seven rebounds apiece as Mount Olive outrebounded Barton 44-32. Green also recorded four blocked shots as the Trojans blocked a season-high 10 shots.
Boston had a game-high 21 points to go with six assists for Barton. Flemmings finished with 17 points, while Manley and McNair added 10 points apiece. Jon Hart shared game-high honors with nine rebounds.
Thursday's win put Mount Olive over the .500 mark for the first time this season after a 1-7 start. The Trojans' turnaround included a 72-69 win in December over Augusta State, also ranked No. 12 in the NABC Division II Top 25 at the time.
Mount Olive gets little time to celebrate the win as the Trojans travel to Tigerville, S.C., Saturday to take on North Greenville in a Conference Carolinas match-up. Mount Olive fell to the Crusaders 85-80 in the first meeting November 19 at Kornegay Arena. Tip-off is 4 p.m., shortly after the conclusion of Trojan women's basketball vs. North Greenville.