MOC men focused after downing Erskine
By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on March 4, 2004 1:57 PM
MOUNT OLIVE -- Records mean nothing during postseason tournaments.
In fact, the Mount Olive College men's basketball team -- including head coach Bill Clingan -- were oblivious to one statistic heading into Wednesday evening's contest against Erskine (S.C.) College. The Trojans had failed to advance past the quarterfinals of the NCAA Division II Carolinas-Virginia Athletics Conference tournament each of the last four years.
Mount Olive College's Johnny Galarza goes in for a layup over Erskine's Matt Odom.
Mount Olive had not won a CVAC Tournament game since Feb. 24, 1999 when it bested archrival Barton College by 10 points. The Trojans lost to Pfeiffer in the semifinals that year, which started a five-game losing streak in the postseason.
But Clingan's team momentarily reversed that current trend against Erskine. Johnny Galarza led five players in double figures with 14 points as Mount Olive prevailed 77-64 at College Hall. The Trojans tied the single-season school record for victories (22) set by that 1999 team.
"I did not realize that," Clingan said when told of the CVAC postseason streak. "Hmmm. It comes at a good time then."
In their previous two meetings, the Trojans had a difficult time playing against the Flying Fleet's deliberate style. Clingan wanted his team to dicate the tempo, and it did for the first four minutes of the opening half.
Mount Olive bolted to a double-digit lead, getting strong inside play from Sean Barnett and Marcus West. The backcourt of Maurice Horton, Brad McDougald and Johnny Galarza also produced a couple of wide-open looks for 3-pointers on the perimeter.
West's offensive putback made it 13-4 at the 16-minute, 13-second mark. After a timeout, West converted Galarza's steal into a layup for the Trojans' biggest lead of the half -- 15-4.
Erskine slowed down the pace and began using 25 to 30 seconds on the shot clock. The patience and better spacing on offense allowed 6-foot-7 freshman Craig Williams to get untracked on the low post. Williams had nine points and Matt Odom drained two 3-pointers as the Flying Fleet forged ahead 19-18 with 8:07 left before halftime.
"We started getting anxious," Clingan said. "Instead of making that second and third pass, which got us to that good lead, we wanted to make the first pass. We were telegraphing our passes.
"They did dictate the tempo."
Kevin Parker's 3-pointer off Bobby Isom's assist gave Erskine its biggest lead, 28-22, late in the first half. Mount Olive countered with a 13-4 run, which included Galarza's three-point play and a 3-pointer just before time expired.
"Our rebounders inside were taking it, holding back and kicking it to the outlet real slow," Clingan said. "We told them in the second half, on all rebounds, to take it out on the dribble and push it down the sideline. We can out-race them on our transition, which we several times in the second half."
"We wanted to keep constant pressure on them."
Galarza started a 9-0 run with a layup underneath. Elijah Rouse picked Erskine's pocket for a steal and dunked it. Galarza added another basket off West's steal and McDougald finished the run with a 3-pointer off Young's assist.
The Flying Fleet refused to sink.
Erskine, again, slowed the down the tempo and started looking for Williams on the blocks. He scored nine straight points to pull the Flying Fleet within 53-52 with a little more than nine minutes to go.
"He played an outstanding game," Clingan said of Williams, who scored 32 points. "The second half we tried to double team a couple of times, and play off him because he's not a three-point threat. But he's outstanding on the block and did a great job."
Mount Olive re-established an up-tempo pace which forced Williams to run the court and get into foul trouble. Elton Coffield, Barnett, West and Young each provided key baskets as the Trojans rebuilt their advantage to 62-52.
Williams' offensive putback closed the gap to 62-56, but Erskine would get no closer.
West and McDougald complemented Galarza's effort with 13 points apiece. Rouse chipped in 12, while Barnett finished with 11. Mount Olive captured its fifth consecutive win and finished its home schedule with a sterling 14-1 record.
The Trojans are 2-5 in the postseason since 1999.
Erskine, a CVAC Tournament semifinalist a year ago, concluded the year 13-15.
In other quarterfinal games Wednesday, top-seeded Pfeiffer drilled Limestone 110-86, fourth-seeded Belmont Abbey dumped Barton 73-63 and third-seeded Queens University cruised past Coker (S.C.) College 73-54.
Semifinal-round play begins Friday at Belk Arena on the Erskine (S.C.) College campus in Due West. Pfeiffer faces Belmont Abbey at 6 p.m. and Mount Olive challenges Queens University at 8 p.m. The championship is slated for 4:30 p.m. Saturday.
The tournament winner earns an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament.
2004 NCAA Division II
(at Mount Olive College)
MOUNT OLIVE (77)
Sean Barnett 5 0 1-2 11, Marcus West 4 1 2-3 13, Maurice Horton 1 1 3-3 8, Johnny Galarza 5 1 1-1 14, Brad McDougald 0 4 1-2 13, Victor Young 2 0 0-0 4, Chuckie Jefferson 0 0 0-0 0, Elton Coffield 0 0 2-2 2, Elijah Rouse 4 0 4-4 12, Chris Bartley 0 0 0-0 0, Plinio Broering 0 0 0-0 0, Carlos Simon 0 0 0-0 0.
Kevin Parker 1 1 0-0 5, Idris Mayo 4 0 2-3 10, Eoghan White 0 0 0-0 0, Bobby Isom 3 0 3-3 9, Matt Odom 0 2 2-2 8, Craig Williams 8 0 16-20 32, Jay Waring 0 0 0-0 0, Adam Powell 0 0 0-0 0.
Halftime -- Mount Olive 35, Erskine 32. Three-point baskets -- Mount Olive 7-16 (West 1-2, Horton 1-1, Galarza 1-3, McDougald 4-7, Young 0-2, Coffield 0-1); Erskine 3-11 (Parker 1-1, Mayo 0-1, Isom 0-4, Odom 2-5). Rebounds -- Mount Olive 30 (West 8), Erskine 20 (Williams 6). Assists -- Mount Olive 17 (McDougald 6), Erskine 10 (Odom 5). Turnovers -- Mount Olive 16, Erskine 19. Blocked shots -- Mount Olive 2, Erskine 0. Steals -- Mount Olive 13 (Galarza 4), Erskine 9 (Williams 5).
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