The Lees-McRae College Bobcats basketball team hosted Mount Olive College Monday evening at Williams Gymnasium, defeating their nationally ranked Carolinas-Virginia Athletic Conference rivals 86-77. The Bobcats improve to 3-2 (2-0 CVAC) while the Trojans' record evens at 2-2 (0-2 CVAC).
The Trojans, ranked 19th in NCAA Division II, came out flying in the first half jumping out to a quick 9-2 lead just over three and a half minutes into the game. After a Bobcat timeout, the home team came back on the court energized and cut the Trojan lead to two. Henry Williams' first of five three pointers on the night pulled the Bobcats to within one before back to back field goals by Pete Dunbar and Aaron Dugger, (pictured top left), gave the Bobcats the lead 14-11, one they would not relinquish for the remainder of the half. Lees-McRae would extend the lead to as much as six on three occasions, and as high as nine, but the Trojans, last season's CVAC Finalist and an NCAA Tournament team, battled back preventing the Bobcats from pulling away and establishing a comfortable lead. The teams entered the locker room for recess with the Bobcats leading 37-32.
A five point lead against a nationally ranked opponent is never safe as the Trojans started the second half on fire with three straight field goals to regain the lead 38-37. The teams would trade their next three baskets each, flip flopping the one point lead before back to back three pointers by Williams, (pictured bottom left), and Dugger regained the Bobcats' five point cushion and the lead for good with just under 16 minutes to play. The experienced Trojans would again come back strong and play to the final buzzer, cutting the deficit to one on four occasions. However, key three pointers by Williams and Dugger, and four straight free throws by Dunbar, (pictured bottom right), which gave the Bobcats a six point lead with five minutes to play, clinched the win over the nationally ranked CVAC rivals. Four more free throws by Dugger sandwiched a pair by DJ Menifee to give Head Coach Scott Polsgrove his first win over a nationally ranked opponent in only his fifth game on the Bobcat sidelines.
The Trojans out scored the Bobcats 27-13 off turnovers, while the Bobcats out shot the visitors from behind the three point arc 24-15. The Trojans shot 40% from the field while the Bobcats shot 52.8%.
Dugger led the Bobcats in scoring with 21 points and five rebounds, while Dunbar chipped in with 19 points and a nickel's worth of rebounds himself. Williams buried a field goal to go with his five treys for 17 points. Mike Fox pulled down a game high seven rebounds while shooting three for three from the field and two for two from the charity stripe to contribute eight points.
Kendrick Easley led the visitors with a game high 25 points. Elijah Rouse and Brandon Streeter added 18 and 16 points respectively for the Trojans.
The Bobcats will travel to Barton College for a 7:30pm tip off Saturday December 2nd. The game will be the second consecutive contest against a nationally ranked opponent as Barton enters the game ranked ninth in the nation. The Bulldogs qualified for the Elite Eight in last year's NCAA Tournament after winning the NCAA East Regional and defeating Mount Olive in double overtime in last year's CVAC Championship game.