Trojans Upend League-Leading Mount Olive

ANDERSON, S.C. -- Behind a late rally, the Anderson men's basketball team opened a three-game homestand by handing league-leading Mount Olive its first league setback, 81-74, in Conference Carolinas' action Saturday afternoon at the Abney Athletic Center. Trailing, 72-65, with 5:17 left in the contest, the Trojans rallied to avenge an earlier road setback at the hands of Mount Olive and snapped the visiting Trojans’ 11-game winning streak in the process. With the win, Anderson (14-5, 5-5 Conference Carolinas) snapped a two-game skid and has won six of its last eight contests while Mount Olive fell to 16-5 overall and 12-1 in league play. Anderson trailed 36-35 at the half, but guard Tony Anderson scored eight unanswered points out of the break to give the home Trojans a 43-38 advantage at het 16:15 mark of the second frame. The senior from Greenville connected on two consecutive 3-pointers, one from each corner, then drained a jumper in the lane to give AU the lead, while the Trojans’ defense held Mount Olive scoreless until senior Mike Holloman hit a jumper with 16:15 on the clock. In a game that featured 15 lead changes and seven ties, Anderson went on to build its largest lead of the game, 48-38, when forward Stephen Cobb hit one-of two free throws. Anderson held the cushion for the next 3:48, but Mount Olive chipped away at the deficit and eventually knotted the score for the first time of the second half at 57-57 on guard Brandon Allen’s 3-pointer from the left wing midway through the half. Following Brandon Young’s two from the line, guard Kevis Cornwell scored three straight to build AU’s lead back to a slim four-point margin, before Mount Olive went on a 12-1 scoring spurt to push out to the seven-point advantage. But Anderson refused to surrender, and rallied behind two free throws each from Young and Tony Anderson before MOC’s Derek Staton hit one-of-two at the line. Trailing, 73-69, sophomore Taylor Shugart grabbed a miss by Cornwell and stuck it back to pull AU within two with under three minutes remaining. Just 24 seconds later Young netted two more from the line to knot the score for the seventh and final time. Cornwell followed with his ninth field goal of the night, giving AU a lead they would not relinquish at 75-73 with a jumper in the lane. Shugart, who collected a game-high 11 boards, including seven on the defensive end, fouled out with 1:10 left in the contest, sending Mount Olive to the line. But the visiting Trojans were unable to capitalize and AU’s Young found Trey Britton driving the left baseline and the 6-foot-7 forward boosted the lead back to four. Anderson was a perfect 4-of-4 from the line inside the final 30 seconds as Mount Olive was forced to foul. “[Mount Olive] is a great team,” Anderson head coach Jason Taylor said. “We just wanted to come out and compete. We needed to win one like this. We took care of the ball and got defensive stops when we needed to.” The battle of the boards was a draw, with each team pulling down 38 rebounds, while Anderson shot 49-1 percent from the field compared to 38.8 percent for Mount Olive. Cornwell paced three Anderson players in double figures, with 20 points, while Young and Anderson each netted 16 points. Young also handed out a team-high five assists on the night. Mount Olive senior guard Kendrick Easley scored a game-high 24 points and now has 2,010 career points, becoming only the second player in Mount Olive school history to surpass the 2,000-point mark. Anderson continues the homestand when Limestone College invades the Abney Center Monday night. Tip-off versus the Saints is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. Box Score
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