MOC men halt six-game skid
By Andrew Stevens
Published in Sports on December 20, 2012 1:47 PM
MOUNT OLIVE -- His dress shirt untucked and his tie long gone, Mount Olive head men's basketball coach Joey Higginbotham lingered around Kornegay Arena for quite some time Wednesday night.
He wanted to savor this one.
The Trojans' 15-point, second-half lead shrunk to two points, but they hung on for an 83-78 victory over Wingate. Mount Olive (2-7 overall) snapped a six-game losing streak.
Darrell Patterson poured in a career-high 28 points and Mahamed Ibrahim added 14 points. Jordan McCain supplied 13 points.
"That's a very quality win for us against a very good ball club that's going to win a lot of games," Higginbotham said. "This is a very rewarding win for our guys to be in the situation where we could have easily come in here and throw the towel in and play the game and go home for Christmas.
"They didn't. They answered the call, they stepped up and we got a good win."
The Trojans forced turnovers with their press midway through the first half. Dontrell Brite's layup off a Bulldogs' turnover capped an 8-0 run that increased the Mount Olive's lead to 19-14.
McCain began to heat up from beyond the arc and he knocked down 3-pointers on consecutive possessions to help Mount Olive maintain a 31-25 advantage. Brite's 3-pointer gave Mount Olive its biggest lead of the half at 40-29 with fewer than two minutes to play.
Patterson and McCain each scored 11 points in the first half and combined to go 4 for 5 from 3-point range.
"It was all my teammates," Patterson said. "They keep telling me to work hard every day and my shots (are) going to fall and I was able to hit some shots tonight. When I hit the first shot tonight it felt good and my teammates found me when I got hot."
The Trojans led 43-34 at the half and needed fewer than three minutes to push the margin back to double digits at 52-41 on Patterson's 3-pointer. Mount Olive's lead grew to as large as 62-47 before the Bulldogs began to bite back with 11 unanswered points.
Ryan Daye knocked down a 3-pointer and added a layup. Jeffrey Parker's 3-pointer cut the deficit to 62-55. Paidrick Matilus capped the spurt with a 3-pointer with less than 9 1/2 minutes to play that pulled Wingate to within 62-58.
Shots that had fallen for the Trojans for the majority of the game were suddenly off the mark. As Mount Olive struggled offensively, the Bulldogs continued to claw their way back and Deion Turman's dunk trimmed the deficit to 70-68 with fewer than five minutes to play.
Wingate committed a pair of costly turnovers in the final three minutes and Mount Olive went 6 for 8 from the free throw line down the stretch to seal the win.
"We're a good team and our record doesn't show that," Patterson said. "We came together tonight as a team and we worked together. Coach kept saying, 'be a good teammate,' and that was a big motivational thing for me. Our coach had confidence in us to get it done and we stepped up tonight."
The Trojans play host to Augusta State on Dec. 30.
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