SPARTANBURG, S.C. – With five players in double figures, the Trojans were unable to overcome an early first-half deficit and fell by an 89-79 margin against Belmont Abbey in the quarterfinals of the Atlantic Casualty Conference Carolinas Men’s Basketball Championship on March 3 in the Jerry Richardson Indoor Stadium.
With the loss, the University of Mount Olive men’s basketball team concluded the season with a 13-18 overall record under first-year head coach Dory Hines. The Trojans finished the year winning six of their final eight games, including two tournament wins.
Senior Michael Brown produced a team-high 21 points on 6 of 18 shots while converting eight of nine from the free-throw line. He also totaled eight rebounds, seven assists and two steals while playing all 40 minutes. Brown finished his collegiate career with 1,588 career points, the fourth-most in program history, and 615 career assists, the second-most in team history. The Virginia native also solidified the all-time single-season records for the program with 718 points and 207 assists this season.
Freshman Ryan Roberts finished with 12 points, four rebounds, one steal and one block in 34 minutes, while senior Kaeleb Carter tallied 11 points and two rebounds in 20 minutes. Junior Derreco Miller totaled 10 points on four of five shots with four rebounds and two steals in 21 minutes off the bench. Freshman Colin Radcliffe registered 10 points and two rebounds in 25 minutes of action.
The Crusaders raced out to an early 12-0 lead after converting four of five from beyond the arc in the initial two-plus minutes of the contest. UMO cut the deficit to 17-9 at the 15:10 mark. Belmont Abbey tallied seven straight points to stretch the advantage to 24-9 before UMO responded with a 16-7 run to close the gap to 31-25 with 6:06 remaining. The Crusaders managed to build the advantage back to double digits, 42-31, before the Trojans scored five unanswered points in the final minute to trail 42-36. Belmont Abbey converted a dunk as the buzzer sounded to take a 44-36 lead into halftime.
In the second half, the Trojans quickly made it a two-possession game following a three-pointer from Carter in the opening minute and trailed 46-41. The Crusaders built the lead back to 53-44 with 17 minutes left in the regulation before UMO mounted a 12-5 rally to cut the deficit to 58-56. Belmont Abbey answered with six straight points to re-establish their advantage before four consecutive points by Miller closed the gap to 64-61 with under eight minutes remaining. The Crusaders surged ahead again after finding success at the free-throw line to hold a 79-68 edge with only 2:06 left. Brown followed with one more three-pointer, but the Trojans were unable to complete the comeback.
UMO shot at a 37.5 percent clip (27 of 72) from the floor while going 11 of 36 (30.6 percent) from three-point range and 93.3 percent (14 of 15) from the charity stripe. Meanwhile, Belmont Abbey finished the game shooting 48.4 percent (31 of 64) and converted 9 of 18 (50 percent) from beyond the arc.
— From University of Mount Olive Athletics