12/05/04 — MOC clips Erskine at home

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MOC clips Erskine at home

By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on December 5, 2004 2:02 AM

MOUNT OLIVE -- Elton Coffield continued his torrid, early-season scoring pace Saturday evening.

A sophomore from Williamston, Coffield collected a game-high 23 points and helped Mount Olive College ease past Erskine (S.C.) College 68-60 at College Hall. It was the NCAA Division II Carolinas-Virginia Athletics Conference opener for both teams.

Coffield, a 6-foot-3 forward, emerged the team's top scorer for the fifth time in six games and is averaging 20.7 points per outing.

The contest featured contrasting styles of play.

Erskine (1-3)

attempted to slow down the pace and dictate the tempo with an offensive strategy comparable to Princeton. The Flying Fleet relied on screens to create back-door cuts or uncontested shots on the perimeter. The visitors stayed close in the first five minutes until Mount Olive unleashed the first of two big runs.

Tied at 4-4, the Trojans went on a 17-3 run during a five-minute span. Defensive pressure and consistent play in the transition game allowed Mount Olive to build a lead it would never surrender.

"This team can make a lot of runs very quickly, but our defense creates the offense many times in our game," Trojans coach Bill Clingan said. They played great defense and credit Erskine because they didn't quit ... stayed on our heels all night. That's the kind of game we expected tonight." But Clingan didn't expect inconsistency from an offense that's averaging 100.6 points per game. The Trojans fell victim to impatience after the run and allowed Erskine to climb with 28-20 at halftime. Clemson University transfer Reed Long, who hit the game-winning shot against in-state rival Lander two days ago, buried a pair of 3-pointers to start a 9-0 spurt.

Mount Olive stopped the late offensive surge behind Coffield, Elijah Rouse and Chuckie Jefferson. The trio combined for five points for the eight-point halftime margin.

"That's (impatience) something we'll work on," Clingan said.

The Trojans (5-1) uncorked another run -- 26-7 -- over a 12-minute stretch in the second half. Sharome Holloway's 3-pointer off Victor Young's assist gave Mount Olive its biggest lead 54-27. Clingan's team maintained a 20-point advantage until he took out the starting five for the last four minutes.

Erskine, behind the 3-point shooting of Long and Matt Odom, trimmed the deficit to 63-57 with 34 seconds remaining. Melvin Creddle, a junior guard from New York, drained a pair of free throws to make it 65-57. Odom countered with another 3-pointer before the Trojans sealed the home win on Mark Bitzenhofer's open-court layup off Chris Bartley's assist.

Creddle complemented Coffield's effort with 13 points, including nine in the second half. Holloway added seven points and 12 rebounds with 10 coming off the defensive glass. Maurice Horton picked Erskine's pockets for six steals, while Creddle and Victor Young each dished out four assists.

Long led three Erskine players in double figures with 17 points. Odom provided 15 and Craig Williams chipped in 12.

"It's nice to be able to win a game like that and push the record on up while you're learning," Clingan said. "It's a lot better learning with a victory than learning with a loss." Mount Olive returns to action Monday at UNC Pembroke.