Three days removed from back-to-back losses against Wingate, University of Mount Olive lost its fourth straight game Wednesday evening against Emmanuel College.
The Lions went on a 14-2 run midway through the first half and cruised to a 70-58 win over the Trojans at Kornegay Arena. Mount Olive is now 4-9 overall and 3-1 in conference play.
“The first half was awful,” said Mount Olive head coach Joey Higginbotham. “I thought we played better in the second half. We played a lot more aggressive and held them to 70 points, but we’re getting into this habit of digging a hole.
“We have to get better. I have to do a better job of getting these guys ready, we have to focus more. We have a lot to figure out.”
Emmanuel forced Mount Olive into 14 turnovers and converted the Trojans’ miscues into 14 points. The Trojans’ shot 4.5 percent (1-22) from the three-point line and only had five assists in the game.
The Lions ran the floor well and executed efficiently against the Trojans’ defense throughout most of the game.
The great play translated to a 49-percent (26 of 53) shooting performance from the floor, including 11 points off fast-break opportunities against a defense that at times struggled.
The Trojans’ energy and effort picked up in the second half as they outscored the Lions 40-36 in the second half, and pulled to within 12 points twice, but by then the damage was done.
“Emmanuel is a great team, they’re probably one of the better teams in our league, and they can beat you multiple ways,” said Higginbotham. “We can’t go into a half and think we can beat an Emmanuel College with zero assists and eight turnovers.
“We can’t do that against a bad team, much less a really good team.”
Nathan William’s three-pointer and offensive production from Kendrick Colvin and Kyler Ingram pushed the lead back to 62-45 with just over six minutes remaining in regulation.
Jamal Matin and Michael Brown tried to will the Trojans back into the game, but Brandon Simpson knocked in two free throws to give the Lions a 69-53 lead.
With only two minutes left in the game, the Trojans never threatened again and lost 70-56. Brown led Mount Olive with 18 points and five rebounds. Matin finished with a double-double, scoring 13 points and grabbing 10 rebounds.
“We got to have a gut check,” said Higginbotham. “We could easily let this snowball, but we have a gut check.”