Mount Olive Holds Off Trojans

Box Score

GREENEVILLE, Tenn. – Mount Olive overcame a combined 34 points from seniors Taylor Shugart and Nick Trull to outpace Anderson, 75-67, in non-conference men’s basketball action Saturday afternoon in final round action of the South Atlantic Conference/Conference Carolinas Challenge hosted at Tusculum College’s Pioneer Arena.   

In the first meeting versus Mount Olive since dropping an 83-80 decision in the finals of the 2010 Conference Carolinas tournament, Anderson (1-1) mounted a late second-half rally but was unable to overcome a double-digit deficit. Mount Olive improved to 2-0 on the season after defeating host Tusculum, 77-64, on Friday.

Anderson scored the first four points of the contest, as Shugart got AU on the scoreboard with a pair of free throws and Denzail Jones followed with a layup at the 18:58 mark. The Anderson Trojans pushed out to a 10-5 edge behind Shugart, Jones and Nick Trull, but AU went cold from the field, misfiring on seven consecutive shots. The drought of nearly four minutes enabled the Mount Olive Trojans to chip away and eventually take their first lead, at 14-13 on a layup from senior guard Derek Staton.

Mount Olive extended its lead to 22-16 with 4:26 remaining in the first half, before Shugart and Trull answered with four straight points to pull AU back within a possession with just more than three minutes remaining before the break.   

MOC responded with four unanswered points of its own to push back ahead by a half-dozen, and following a pair of free throws from Jones, Mount Olive closed out the half with back-to-back 3-pointers to claim a double-digit, 32-22, lead at intermission.    

After falling behind, 42-29, with more than 15 minutes left in the contest, Anderson battled back within 42-40 at the 12:58 mark, as Trull buried back-to-back 3-pointers and Jo’el Lamb converted an old-fashioned three-point play with 13:34 on the clock. Sophomore forward Kyle Sledge added a layup and AU was down by just two. 

Anderson trimmed the deficit to a single point on six separate occasions over the next seven-plus minutes before eventually taking a brief 59-58 with 5:39 left on a jumper by Shugart.

With the score knotted at 62-62 – just the third tie of the afternoon – Mount Olive ran off eight unanswered points, taking a 70-62 lead with just 2:26 on the clock. But AU refused to surrender, countering with a trey from Trull and a layup from Jo’el Lamb, as AU climbed back once again, to 70-67.

However, Mount Olive closed out the final minute with five consecutive points to set the margin.

Mount Olive won the battle of the boards, 45-37, and despite committing 18 turnovers, Anderson turned 20 Mount turnovers into 21 points. Staton led all scorers with 19 points and handed out a game-high six assists. Trull scored a team-best 18 points, while Shugart added 16 points and a team-high seven rebounds. Lamb handed out four assists.

Anderson plays host to rival Erskine on Wednesday in the Trojans’ home opener. Tip-off versus the Flying Fleet is slated for 7 p.m. at the Abney Athletic Center.   

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