02/02/04 — Trojan women playing better

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Trojan women playing better

By News-Argus Staff
Published in Sports on February 2, 2004 2:01 PM

MOUNT OLIVE -- Mount Olive College head women's basketball coach Wendy Lawrence says her team is improving and playing with more intensity every game.

She feels it's just a matter of time before the won-loss record reflects the Trojans' improvement.

Mount Olive plays its fourth game in seven days as the Trojans play host to Barton in Carolinas-Virginia Athletics Conference women's basketball tonight at College Hall. Tip-off is 5:30 p.m.

Mount Olive (7-9 overall, 3-6 CVAC) is coming off a 95-92 overtime loss at home Friday against Anderson, ranked No. 7 in the NCAA Division II east region poll. Latoria Harvey paced the Trojans with 23 points and nine rebounds, while Goldsboro High School graduate Brandy Smith added a career-high 20 points. Ladora Charles flirted with a triple-double with 16 points, nine steals and seven assists.

Friday's game marked the Trojans' third loss in conference play by three points or less, including a one-point loss against St. Andrews last Tuesday. But rather than getting discouraged, Harvey says the close games have gotten the team fired up.

"Friday's game was a good learning experience," said Harvey, a 5-11 junior from Ivanhoe. "The game was very intense and it's helping us get hyped up for our next game."

Lawrence has told her players to focus on their performance, rather than on the final score.

"We've been putting ourselves in a position to win, but we haven't been able to finish," said Lawrence. "We lost two close games last week and I think that will give us added incentive and desire. I just want the team to be able to look beyond the scores and focus on their performance and the fact that we've been in a position to win."

Barton (13-3, 9-1) defeated Anderson 83-71 Saturday, less than 24 hours after Anderson finished its overtime game at Mount Olive. Kelly Lamotta, who scored 37 points Thursday against Pfeiffer, led Barton with 29 points Saturday, while Lisa Halttunen added 28 points and Keauna Vinson added 14 points and 25 rebounds.

Tonight's contest marks the second time in as many games the Trojans will face a regionally-ranked opponent. Barton is ranked No. 4 in the region and enters tonight's game in first place in the CVAC standings.

While there are always extra bragging rights involved in athletics contests between Mount Olive and Barton, Harvey says the team is keeping the game in perspective.

"It's just another conference game and every conference game is important," said Harvey. "They'll come down here with a lot of intensity, so we need to just come out and play ball."

In the Trojans' first meeting this season at Barton on January 12, Mount Olive fell 69-57 as Barton broke open a one-point game early in the second half. Harvey admits the Trojans were lacking something in that game.

"We didn't have the intensity in that game that we had against Anderson," said Harvey. "We just need to play our game -- defense, rebounding and intensity."