A solid week of practice paid a big dividend Saturday afternoon.
Not to mention a confidence boost and a result that undoubtedly caught the attention of Conference Carolinas opponents.
Darius Spragley pumped in 21 points and handed out six assists as the University of Mount Olive men’s basketball team stunned Lees-McRae, 105-90, inside Kornegay Arena.
The Trojans emerged victorious in back-to-back outings for the fourth time this season.
And this triple-digit performance put a huge smile on head coach Joey Higginbotham’s face.
“We’ve screwed up some on the road and this was a big win for us,” Higginbotham said. “We finally started playing like we practice. Since our King loss, we’ve had some really good practices.”
The in-state rivals battled through nine lead changes and six ties during the first 20 minutes.
UMO seized the lead for good, 45-44, on Jeremiah Phifer’s 3-pointer with less than three minutes left before halftime. The long-distance connection started an 11-3 momentum-swinging run that included key contributions from Spragley, Michael Brown and Johnny Hughes III.
The Trojans (10-7 overall, 4-5 CC) relentlessly attacked the Bobcats’ defense and pushed their advantage to 67-50 around the 15-minute mark of the second half.
“We shared the ball,” said Higginbotham, whose team logged a season-high 21 assists. “We made shots...played together.”
UMO forced Lees-McRae, which normally likes to drive to the basket, to become a jump-shooting team. The Bobcats had 11 three-pointers and owned a 37-34 edge in total field goals made.
The Trojans outscored the visitors 23-5 at the free throw line.
“We executed our gameplain pretty good,” Higginbotham said.
Cameron Robinson added 20 points on six-of-10 shooting from the floor. Hughes III finished with a double-double - 16 points, 17 rebounds. Brown and Jonathan Mebane supplied 13 points apiece.
UMO entertains league-leading Belmont Abbey on Wednesday. Tip-off is 7:30 p.m.