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September 24, 2023 12:13 am

UMO falls short at Belmont Abbey

BELMONT – Despite scoring 54 points in the second half, the University of Mount Olive men’s basketball team had its comeback fall short by a 96-86 margin at Belmont Abbey in Conference Carolinas play on Jan. 7.

With the loss, the Trojans fell to 4-10 this season with a 2-4 mark in conference action. Belmont Abbey has an 8-3 record in the series dating back to 2019 while holding an undefeated 7-0 record at home this year. The Crusaders stretched their winning streak to six straight and improved to 9-5 overall with a 5-1 record in league play.

Senior Michael Brown delivered 22 points on eight of 20 from the floor with eight assists and three rebounds in 39 minutes of action. He totaled 15 points in the second half on his way to his 10th performance with at least 20 points this season. The Virginia native tallied eight assists in a game for the fifth time this season and continues to rank among the top 10 in the nation with 89 assists.

Fellow senior Trayvon Ferrell from Raleigh finished with 18 points on eight of 12 shooting with two rebounds in 29 minutes. He produced 16 of his 18 points in the second half. Freshman Colin Radcliffe of Richlands set a new career-high with 15 points on five of eight shots, including four treys, in 21 minutes off the bench.

In the first half, both teams exchanged baskets over the opening three minutes with Brown tying the contest at eight on a three-pointer at the 17:02 mark. Belmont Abbey created separation with a 10-4 run, including a pair of shots from beyond the arc, to build an 18-12 advantage. Mount Olive scored six of the following nine points to close the gap to 21-18, but the Crusaders countered with nine-consecutive points over the next three minutes. Freshman Shane Peterson of Burlington converted three shots from the free-throw line to cut into the deficit before both sides traded points over the next four minutes. With Belmont Abbey leading 39-28 with 5:29 left in the half, they mounted a 16-4 run in the final minutes to take a 55-32 advantage at the break.

Belmont Abbey continued to hold a comfortable 67-41 lead in the initial five minutes of the second half. The Trojans managed to trim the deficit to 72-51 after Brown and Radcliffe combined for 10 points over a three-minute span. With the Crusaders still holding a 22-point lead with seven minutes to go, UMO mounted a 12-2 rally to close the gap to 83-71 with 4:44 remaining. Belmont Abbey responded with a layup before Ferrell converted a three-pointer as part of a 13-6 run to pull UMO to within 91-84 with 1:16 left in regulation. The Crusaders would hold on by making five of eight from the line to claim a 96-86 win.

UMO finished the contest shooting 42.4 percent (28 of 66) from the floor, including 21 of 36 (58.3 percent) in the second half, while converting 12 of 30 (40 percent) from three-point range. Meanwhile, Belmont Abbey shot 67.3 percent from the floor (33 of 49) and made 21 of 30 (70 percent) from the free-throw line. The Crusaders held a 40-23 rebounding advantage with 38 points in the paint, while the Trojans totaled 24 points off 21 turnovers forced.

— From University of Mount Olive Athletics