Trojans Fall In Exhibition Against Wolfpack Of NC State

Photo by James Benson.
Photo by James Benson.

RALEIGH, North Carolina - The Trojans of the University of Mount Olive took on the Wolfpack of NC State in a preseason exhibition game on Sunday afternoon at PNC Arena in Raleigh, NC. UMO fell 113-73 to NCST in a game that saw the Pack control the score from tipoff.

The game between UMO and NCSU is the second ACC school that UMO has played in a preseason exhibition game in the last two years. Last season the Trojans took on the Tar Heels of UNC at the famed Dean Smith Center.

NC State got things rolling right out of the gate taking an early 11-0 lead over UMO following tipoff. A Jumper by Cameron Robinson got the Trojans on the board as the clock counted down to 16:32. State got out to a 16-point lead (18-2) before a three-pointer from Jeremiah Phifer connected to cut the lead to 13 points.

The Wolfpack steadily pull away from there, opening up a 30 point lead as the clock hit the 6:30 mark. At the halftime horn, UMO Trailed NC State 64-30.

The Trojans came out of halftime playing a much better half of basketball having settled down during the break. Mount Olive's shooting totals improved nearly 20% in all three areas from the field, beyond the three-point arc, and from the free-throw line. Unfortunately, it was too little too late for the Trojans to make a comeback as the Wolfpack held as much as a 42-point lead halfway through the second half.

The Trojans were led by Jeremiah Phifer who tallied 19 points in the contest. Phifer was 5-of-10 from behind the three-point arc and 7-of-15 overall. He was followed by Johnny Hughes and Jonathan Mebane who each scored nine points apiece. Junior Hughes tallied a team-high 13 rebounds, ten on defense, to lead UMO on the boards.

As a team, UMO shot 91.7% from the free-throw line making 11-of-12 attempts. At the half, the Trojans led the Wolfpack in rebounds 23-22, and at the end of the game, both teams had 41 total.

The Pack had five players in double-figures with Markell Johnson leading the way with 24 points. CJ Bryce tallied 22 and Devon Daniels put up 20 points in the contest. Pat Andree and Manny Bates collected 17 and 10 points respectively. Bryce led the Wolfpack with 11 rebounds and tied with Johnson in assists with eight. Bates made a game-high six blocks against the Trojans.

The key moment of the game was very early in the first half as the Trojans could not control the ball and committed 14 turnovers in the opening 20 minutes alone allowing the Pack to take an early lead that they never relinquished.

"I was a little disappointed in our start.  Not in the mistakes but that we played timid and you can't play a team like that.  If we're going to make mistakes like that let's make them going 100 miles per hour and hard," said Coach Higginbotham after the game.  "I was pleased in the second half that we kind of played without looking at the scoreboard.  We changed up some things and guys that didn't play in the first half came in and played hard.  We are going to go back and watch this film up, down, and all around and we are going to learn a lot about ourselves.  It is a great opportunity for a school like Mount Olive to come here and play this game.  A disappointing start but we kept fighting and we will definitely get better from this game."

The Trojans begin their season in two weeks when they travel to Wilson, NC to compete in the Barton College 45 Second Classic on Nov. 8-9. UMO will take on Augusta on Friday, Nov. 8, at 5 PM at the Wilson Gymnasium.