MOUNT OLIVE, NC – The North Georgia men's basketball team opened play Friday evening at the 45th Annual Mount Olive Pickle Classic, battling host Mount Olive and taking the Trojans down to the wire before falling 61-59 at Kornegay Arena in non-conference action.
The Saints drop their second game in the last three contests to open the season, falling to 1-2 on the year, while Mount Olive stays unbeaten on the young season, improving to 2-0 overall.
North Georgia had a chance in the final seconds, holding possession of the ball with 4.1 ticks remaining, but the Trojans swarmed the inbounds pass and created a turnover to end any hopes of a last second shot attempt for the Saints.
The lead changed hands six times in the first half before three-pointers by Clarence Tillman and Pat Moynihan sparked North Georgia to a 32-22 lead with 2:12 left in the first half. Mount Olive cut the margin in half before the break as Allen hit a pair of free throws with one second left after drawing a foul on an offensive rebound to pull the Trojans within 32-27 at halftime.
Ewon Wright's three-pointer with 16:37 left in the game gave Mount Olive its first lead of the second half at 37-35. Carl Taylor answered with a three-pointer for North Georgia and Tillman followed with a three-point play off a dunk to put the Saints back on top. The lead changed hands four more times before Mount Olive took the lead for good.
Mount Olive's Staton finished with 13 points, while Wright and Kason Cheeks added nine points apiece. Cheeks shared game-high honors with eight rebounds, while Hines dished out eight assists.
Taylor led North Georgia with 16 points, while Tillman finished with 15 points and Elijah Smith added 10 points, including an electrifying drive and slam dunk late in the second half. Tillman and Smith pulled down eight rebounds apiece. George Jgerenaia had a game-high six blocked shots.
The Saints return to action on Saturday for the final day of the 45th Annual Mount Olive Pickle Classic, taking on Chowan University with tip-off schedule for 5:00 p.m. in Kornegay Arena.