Trojan triumph -- Young's free throws preserve victory
By Gabe Whisnant
Published in Sports on January 7, 2005 1:57 PM
WILSON -- "40."
Veteran Mount Olive men's basketball coach Bill Clingan wrote the two, simple digits on the chalkboard before his team's game at archrival Barton College, because he knew it would take a 40-minute effort to come out of Wilson Gymnasium with a win.
Clingan was right.
The Trojans, ranked 10th in the latest NCAA Division II East Regional poll, survived a furious comeback attempt by the Bulldogs in the second half and escaped with a 70-66 victory.
The win, Mount Olive's second straight at Barton, improved the Trojans to 8-1 overall and 2-0 in the Carolinas-Virginia Athletic Conference. Mount Olive is now 5-1 on the road this season. The Bulldogs (5-4) exited the game 1-1 in the CVAC and dropped their first home game in four outings this season.
Win number eight for the Trojans looked to be turning into a blowout in the second half as Mount Olive built a 61-44 lead with just under nine minutes left. But one improbable shot switched the momentum in the Bulldogs' favor.
With the shot clock at one second, Barton guard Ervin Gregory -- falling out bounds -- launched a desperation, 3-pointer from near midcourt that swished through the net, which electrified his team and the Bulldog faithful.
Gregory's bomb cut the lead to eight with four minutes left. Teammate Casey Moore then drained a couple of clutch 3-pointers and made two at the free throw line to trim the margin all the way down to 68-66. That capped a whopping 24-5 run.
"The momentum swung when he made that shot," Clingan said. "You have to play every minute of every second of the whole game. Winners play 40 minutes. There are going to be big leads and momentum swings especially in a rivalry game like this."
Goldsboro graduate and Trojan junior Victor Young made one-of-two at the stripe, twice in the final minute to push the game to its final margin at 70-66. Young, who had a team-high 16 points, grabbed his fifth rebound before his final trip to the line with his team clinging to a three-point edge in the waning seconds.
"It was a 17-point lead, then you look up at the clock and you are up three," Young said. "That shot he (Gregory) made turned the game around."
Young was one of four Trojans in double figures as teammates Chris Bartley and Maurice Horton provided 13 points each, while leading scorer Elton Coffield added 12. Sharome Holloway led the Trojans on the boards with eight rebounds.
Barton built an early 11-4 lead as Bulldog big men Jacoby Key and George Turner managed easy looks underneath -- prompting Clingan to take a 30-second timeout.
From there, Mount Olive picked up its intensity on both ends of the floor -- going on an 18-4 run and reversing the seven-point deficit to go ahead 22-15 with nine minutes left in the half.
The Bulldogs got as close as two, one minute later, but Mount Olive closed the first half strong with a 14-5 push. Bartley had two put-backs underneath in the final five minutes of the first as the Trojans out-scrapped the Bulldogs to take a 36-25 lead at halftime.
The second half got off to a rousing start when Maurice Horton tossed an alley-oop to Young, who slammed home a strong, left-handed dunk to give Mount Olive an 11-point lead. With a total team effort, the Trojans outscored Barton 25-11 in the first 12 minutes of the second half leading up to Barton's surge.
"We didn't have a good flow most of the night on offense, but I thought the kids played good defense and that's what we pride ourselves on," Clingan said. "One of the things we wanted to do was outrun them to loose balls and get back on defense. That's one of the biggest keys to what we did tonight and probably made the difference in the whole game."
The Trojans will look to stay perfect at home this season on Saturday as they take on Queens in a CVAC contest at 4 p.m.
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