By Ryan Hanchett
Published in Sports on February 1, 2013 1:47 PM
MOUNT OLIVE -- Dontrell Brite was not the player anyone inside Kornegay Arena would have picked to be the most valuable player in the "Battle of the East" between Conference Carolinas rivals Mount Olive College and Barton College on Thursday night.
Brite was just that ... valuable.
The Trojan freshman took the game over in the final eight minutes and led his team to an 80-75 victory over the No. 12-ranked Bulldogs. Brite scored 13 of his 15 points in the second half.
"I just wanted to let the game come to me and try to stay in the flow of the offense," Brite said. "My teammates trusted me with the ball and they kept finding me. I was fortunate to be in those positions"
The teams traded baskets over the first five minutes as Barton surged to a 11-8 lead. Mount Olive (9-8 overall, 6-5 CC) rallied behind a pair of baskets from Darrell Patterson and took the lead 20-17 with 10 minutes gone in the first half.
Mount Olive's largest lead of the first half came when Ewon Wright sank a jumper to make it 30-21 with six minutes left. Mount Olive was whistled for 14 fouls in the first half, which allowed Barton (14-3, 9-2) to get back in the game from the charity stripe.
Barton led 38-35 at the intermission.
"Late in the first half they adjusted to our full-court trap," Mount Olive head coach Joey Higginbotham said. "We gave up some easy baskets and it cost us. We did a much better job in the second half of playing good fundamental man-to-man."
The teams continued to trade buckets in the second half.
Mount Olive finally gained some ground when Dory Hines' jumper with 12 minutes to play cut Barton's lead to 48-47. Brite gave the Trojans their first lead of the second half, 56-54, on a long 3-pointer with eight minutes to play.
A fight ensued in front of the Mount Olive bench. Mount Olive's Caleb Henderson and Barton's Aaron Brown were each assessed a technical foul in the fray. Brite followed with a short jumper and buried another 3-pointer just one minute later and put the Trojans ahead for good.
"Dontrell did not play very good ball in the first half so I took him out," Higginbotham said. "But I told him to be ready to play in the second half and he responded. Confidence is never an issue with Dontrell and you can see he is learning the college game quickly."
A second fight in front of the Mount Olive student section led to Barton's Keith Manley being ejected with six minutes to play. A Mount Olive student was removed from the stands for his role in the altercation.
The Trojans spent the final minutes at the free throw line where they made enough to preserve the victory. Patterson led Mount Olive with 16 points and seven rebounds. Mahamed Ibrahim added 12 points in the win.
Gerald Boston paced Barton with 21 points. Chris Flemmings added 17 points for the Bulldogs.
Mount Olive travels to North Greenville on Saturday.
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