Trojans Down No. 24 Braves with a Buzzer Beater from Hughes


PEMBROKE, North Carolina - The University of Mount Olive men's basketball team defeated the No. 24 Braves of UNC Pembroke 74-72 on Sunday afternoon in regional NCAA Division II men's basketball action. UMO improves to 4-4 on the season, while UNCP falls to 5-2 overall.

Mount Olive snapped a three-game losing streak with the win over the Braves. The win is also the first over UNC Pembroke since the 2013-14 season when the Trojans won 90-65 on Dec. 19, 2013, at Kornegay Arena.

UMO got on the scoreboard first following a three-pointer from Jonathan Mebane 58 seconds into the competition. UNCP went on a 9-0 run over the next three minutes taking a 9-3 lead before Johnny Hughes IIIdunked the ball following an assist from Michael Brown. Pembroke held a slim lead through the first seven minutes of action but UMO tied the game at 15 all on a three from Calvin Washington at the 12:37 mark. The squads went back and forth switching control of the lead and knotting the score four times, last at 23 all, before an 8-3 run by the Trojans put UMO ahead 31-26 until the 4:25 mark. The Braves led the rally that closed out the first half of action on a 9-5 run that put the score 36-35 at halftime with UMO holding a razor-thin lead.

The first few minutes of the second half were just as exciting as the first with the teams swapping the lead and the score knotting at 40 by the 18:11 mark. UMO opened a five-point lead following a three from Mebane and a layup from Matthias Caver. Pembroke pulled within one, 45-44, but an 8-2 run gave the Trojans a seven-point lead 53-46 by the 12:54 mark of the second. Two-minutes later UNCP tied the game at 53 all and forced another run from the Trojans who reclaimed the lead following a 16-9 run that gave UMO a 14-point advantage, 69-55 (6:31). The Braves remained calm and composed while chipping away at the Trojans lead until the score sat tied at 72 all with 28 seconds remaining in action. Coach Joey Higginbotham called a timeout to draw out a final play and despite a missed shot, Johnny Hughes III got the offensive rebound and the putback to win the game just before the final buzzer rang announcing UMO as the winner 74-72.

The Trojans were led by Darius Spragley with 18 points. Close on his heals were Johnny Hughes II and Matthias Caver who each tallied 14 points in the contest. Spragley had a team-high three steals, Hughes had six rebounds, and Michael Brown led the Trojans with five assists. 

The Braves were led by Cortez Marion-Holmes with a game-high 23 points. Carson Mounce was the only other Brave to reach double-digits with 13 points. Jordan Ratliff led in rebounds with seven and David Strother had seven assists in the contest.

The key moment of the game came in the final second of the game when Johnny Hughes III scored on a put-back layup to win at the buzzer. 

Mount Olive's next game is a road match-up against the Flying Fleet of Erskine College on Saturday, Dec. 7th. Tip-off between Mount Olive and Erskine is set for 4 PM in Due West, SC. following the women's game at 2 PM.


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