Mike Moore scored a career-high 19 points and his three-pointer with 45.9 seconds left in overtime put University of Mount Olive ahead to stay as the Trojans defeated Limestone 76-74 in Conference Carolinas men's basketball Saturday at Kornegay Arena. The win gave sixth-year Trojan head coach Joey Higginbotham his 100th career victory.
The two teams combine to score on the first seven possessions of overtime as Josh Odem's two free throws with 2:34 remaining gave Limestone a 71-69 lead. Mount Olive (8-4 overall, 2-0 Conference Carolinas) took its first lead of the overtime at 72-71 on Ewon Wright's three-pointer with 1:39 left to play.
Limestone (9-4, 1-2) regained the lead on its next possession on a three-pointer by PJ Foster, who leads the nation in three-point field goals and attempts. Mount Olive missed a three-pointer, but kept possession with 52 seconds remaining after the ball went out of bounds off of the Saints. Moore returned to the floor during the deadball.
Jordan McCain, who scored 16 of his team-high 20 points after halftime, drove into the top of the lane and kicked the ball to Moore on the left wing. The 6-foot-7 forward hit all net for his third 3-pointer of the game to give the Trojans a 75-74 lead.
McCain pulled down the rebound on a Limestone miss and Moore hit 1-of-2 free throws with 26.8 seconds left to add to Mount Olive's lead. After a Trojan timeout, Limestone played for the final shot.
The Saints looked to set up a play designed for Foster to shoot a three, but Mount Olive's defense denied Foster the ball until the final seconds. Foster took a shot from well beyond NBA range on the left wing and the shot was on target, but the ball went off the cylinder and the glass as the horn sounded.
Mount Olive trailed by nine early in the second half, but McCain's three-pointer with exactly seven minutes left in regulation capped a 16-2 run and gave the Trojans a 57-49 lead. Limestone came back with a run of its own as Asaad Woods converted a three-point play, while Foster hit a three-pointer and sank a pair of free throws after a Trojan delay-of-game technical as the Saints tied the game 61-61 with 1:42 remaining.
On Limestone's ensuing possession, Odem was fouled with 1:31 left and hit both free throws to put the Saints back on top. The Saints hit only five field goals in the second half, but connected on 15-of-18 free throws.
Mount Olive pulled within a point after Dominique Reed hit 1-of-2 free throws with 1:06 left. Limestone missed a three-point attempt and Dory Hines was fouled with 20 seconds remaining. Hines missed the first attempt, but hit the second free throw to tie the game 63-63. A Limestone jumper with three seconds left in regulation was off the mark, sending the game into overtime.
The first half saw both teams pull off double-digit scoring runs as Mount Olive scored 17 unanswered points to turn an early seven-point deficit into a 23-13 lead with 9:33 remaining. Moore hit a pair of three-pointers during the scoring run.
Limestone regained the lead as Odem hit a pair of three's from the left corner during a 14-2 run that put the Saints back on top 27-25. Mount Olive was held without a field goal over the final five minutes of the half and Foster's three-pointer just before the buzzer gave Limestone a 37-30 halftime lead.
Prior to the game, Hines was recognized for becoming Mount Olive's all-time assists leader. Hines dished out a game-high five assists Saturday to give him 536 for his career. Reed scored 13 points for the Trojans, while Kendall Hargrove pulled down a game-high eight assists.
Higginbotham entered this season with a career record of 92-50 and improved to 100-54 after Saturday's win. Mount Olive is now 8-1 this season in games scoring at least 70 points.
Foster and Odem shared game-high honors with 23 points apiece for Limestone.
Mount Olive returns to action Wednesday as the Trojans play host to King in a Conference Carolinas match-up. Tip-off is 5:30 p.m. at Kornegay Arena.