MOUNT OLIVE, NC – The Pfeiffer men’s basketball team (6-21) fell in the opening round of the Conference Carolinas Tournament at the top-seeded Mount Olive (19-8) by a final score of 77-68 on Saturday evening. Freshman Andrew Guerrero ended his rookie campaign in style, finishing with 19 points and going 5-fo-8 from three point range.
David McNair recorded his seventh double-double of the season as the sophomore grabbed 13 rebounds and scored 10 points. McNair finishes the season as the conference’s third leading rebounder at 9.2 boards per game.
Mike Smith added 17 points and AJ Clark finished with 11 for the Falcons. Clark added six of his team’s 12 assists on the game and played all 40 minutes.
Mount Olive was led by 18 points from Dontrell Brite and 15 from Kendall Hargrove. Dory Hines pulled down 10 boards for the hosts who shot 49.2 percent from the field.
Pfeiffer finished with a 44.8 percent shooting percentage and went 43.8 percent from long range.
Mount Olive was very efficient on the offensive end, committing only six turnovers in the matchup. The Trojans outscored Pfeiffer 44-34 in the paint and held a 17-8 edge in points off turnovers.
Pfeiffer ran out to an early 5-0 lead on a three from Guerrero and a tip-in from Clark. Pfeiffer trailed for only 13 seconds in the game’s opening 11:11. However, Mike Moore’s three pointer at the 8:06 mark gave Mount Olive a 25-23 lead. Smith answered on the other end with a driving layup but Mount Olive responded with a 12-3 run over the next four minutes to take a 37-28 advantage. By the time the half ended, Mount Olive held a 41-32 lead as Brite and Hargrove combined for 22 points.
A quick 8-4 run by Pfeiffer to start the second half cut Mount Olive’s lead to 45-40 with 17 minutes to play. The Trojans pushed the lead to as many as 16 in the second half but Pfeiffer refused to quit. Pfeiffer cut the lead to single-digits on three different occasions but weren’t able to close the gap any closer than nine points.
Smith scored 13 of his 17 points in the second half and Silvere Aluko had five of his six blocked shots in the final 20 minutes. Aluko had 13 blocks in the final two games of the season and finishes the year as the leading shot blocker in the conference.
Mount Olive advances to the semifinal round of the Conference Tournament which is hosted at the Cabarrus Arts and Events Center. The tournament starts at 12:30 p.m. on Wednesday with both the men’s and women’s semifinals being played.