Mount Olive men pull away late to win
By Ryan Hanchett
Published in Sports on January 15, 2012 1:52 AM
MOUNT OLIVE -- In front of a mostly empty gym the Mount Olive College mens' basketball team won a game that may have saved its season.
Coming off back-to-back losses and four losses in the past five outings, the Trojans needed a victory to stay in contention in the Conference Carolinas race. They got the win by taking down Lees-McRae 72-60 on Saturday afternoon.
"We were not going to try to hide it from the guys," MOC head coach Joey Higginbotham said. "We talked about it in the locker room, that this game was a must-win game. No two ways about it."
The Trojans put the visitors away midway through the second half.
Ewon Wright entered the game off the bench and promptly buried a pair of 3-point baskets that pushed the Trojans ahead 51-47. The home team led the rest of the way.
"Ewon was the guy that consistently made shots in both halves," Higginbotham said. "He gave us a couple of big buckets in the first half when it seemed like nobody else could get one to fall and he follwed that up with three big baskets in the second half to help us seal it."
In the first half it was a 20-minute span that featured two long scoring runs by each team.
Mount Olive opened the game on a 9-2 run that led to a Lees-McRae timeout. The Bobcats answered with a 13-1 run over their own before Mount Olive finished the half on a 6-0 spree. All of that back-and-forth ended in a 33-33 tie at the intermission.
"We just could not get anything to fall early on," Higginbotham said. "I thought we got good looks at the basket but we didn't make very many."
The second half was much more to Higginbotham's liking as the Trojans shot 53 percent from the field and 15-for-18 from the free throw line.
Wright led the Mount Olive offense with 21 points. Derek Staton finished as the only other Trojan in double figures with 14 points. Kason Cheeks tallied eight points and nine rebounds in the win.
Asad Lamot paced Lees-McRae with 20 points and six assists. D.J. Brown added 15 points on five baskets from behind the arc.
Mount Olive (9-6, 2-3 CC) is back in action on Wednesday at Kornegay Arena when St. Andrew's pays a visit.
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