The men’s basketball team at UNC-Pembroke has cut its rotation down to just nine men in the aftermath of a December slump in which the Braves lost six of seven games and dropped under .500 for the season.
The good news is that freshman and former Mount Airy High School star Carson Mounce made the cut.
Pembroke, which had fallen to 6-7 on the year after a 73-72 loss at Augusta on Jan. 2, where the Braves rallied from 26 points down to tie in the final minute only to lose anyway, has bounced back with two straight wins since. The team defeated USC-Aiken 59-52 on the road on Jan. 6, then downed Montevallo 80-71 on Saturday in its first home game of 2016.
Mounce, a 6’10” freshman who has played in every game for the Braves, played a significant role in the win over Aiken. He didn’t enter that contest until the 11:52 mark of the first half, with Pembroke trailing 17-11. They fell behind by eight moments later, and then Mounce hit a jump shot, made a steal, and touched off a possession that saw the Braves pull back within four.
He stayed in the game for about six minutes before checking out, then returned about four and a half minutes into the second half with Pembroke trailing 36-27. Later, in a span of about two minutes, he scored three times and snagged an offensive rebound during a 13-2 run that pulled the Braves into a 45-all tie, which was the score when he checked out of the game with 7:46 remaining. Pembroke pulled away in the final two minutes for the win.
For the game, he scored eight points on 4-for-6 shooting in 15 minutes of playing time.
Mounce’s best game to date came in his fifth college game, at Winston-Salem State on Nov. 17. In that contest, won 89-88 by Pembroke, Mounce was a perfect 6-for-6 from the field, with 12 points and six rebounds in 21 minutes. He also had a strong outing in a November exhibition game against Division I Wake Forest, where he scored 10 points in an 86-64 loss to the Deacons. The Braves were using as many as 12 people per game prior to the new year, but have shortened their bench as the season has moved along.
For the season, Mounce, whose brother Clay is a senior at MAHS this season and is also being recruited by the Braves, is averaging 4.5 points per game on 60 percent shooting from the field and 73 percent from the free-throw line.
UNCP hosted Francis Marion on Wednesday in a game that ended after press time for this issue, and returns to action on Saturday against North Georgia.