01/11/05 — Falcons soar to CVAC lead at Mount Olive's expense

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Falcons soar to CVAC lead at Mount Olive's expense

By Neil Fuller
Published in Sports on January 11, 2005 1:55 PM

MOUNT OLIVE - The Pfeiffer University men's basketball team made certain there would be no miracle shot at the end of this visit to College Hall.

The Falcons, ranked ninth in the latest NCAA Division II East Region poll, avenged an embarrassing last-second defeat -- and handed Mount Olive its first home loss of the season -- by taking a 114-92 win on Monday night.

Pfeiffer (7-2) departs as the front-runner in the Carolinas-Virginias Athletic Conference with a 3-1 record, one game ahead of the Trojans in the loss column.

The defeat snaps a seven-game winning streak for Mount Olive (9-2, 3-1 CVAC).

"Games like this can do a lot for a team," Trojans coach Bill Clingan said. "You can use this to improve things and move forward, or you can sit and get mad without doing anything about it. We're not going to do that. We'll take a day off, come back and intensify our practices for the next game. You can't change what's happened."

Last season, Marcus West beat the visiting Falcons with an 80-foot prayer at the final horn in overtime.

There would be no such dramatics this time around. Not after Pfeiffer shot 60 percent (15 of 25) from the field during the second half.

"We hid a lot of our deficiencies by shooting the basketball incredibly well," said Pfeiffer coach Dave Davis, whose team hit 16 of 28 attempts from behind the 3-point arc. "It's hard to beat a team when we shot what we did from 3-point range. Our offense flowed very well tonight, and I think that was the difference.

"The last shot from the game here last season was definitely on our players' minds. We were 19-0 at the time, so that shot from last season was a motivating factor."

Behind 6-foot-8 forward Damien Argrett's 27 points and seven rebounds, the Falcons led by as many as 24 -- overcoming two technical fouls during the first five minutes of the second half. DeMario Grier added 23 points.

Not helping matters for Mount Olive was a 22 of 41 showing from the free-throw line.

"When we had our chances to get back into the game, we didn't get it done at the foul line," Clingan said. "And with Pfeiffer shooting the percentage they were shooting, we couldn't afford not to capitalize on any opportunity we got."

Chris Bartley and Victor Young combined for 27 first-half points, but Pfeiffer's constant use of five-man rotations allowed nine Falcons to score at least one basket during the opening 20 minutes.

Senior guard Rico Grier hit one of his four 3-pointers at the buzzer to send Pfeiffer into the break with a 59-46 lead -- its largest of the night up to that point.

Rico Grier finished with 21 points and six rebounds. That kind of depth was simply too much for the Trojans, who were playing their fourth game in eight nights.

"Our depth helps us in any game," Davis said. "But when we're facing teams that are playing three-plus games a week, it really helps us. It also helps develop your players. You're lucky when you coach a team that isn't afraid to put 14 guys out there on the floor. That's what I have right now."

Bartley, a sophomore, finished with a career-high 26 points on 12 of 19 shooting and eight rebounds.

The only other bright spot for Mount Olive came with 11 minutes remaining in the first half, when Young turned an alley-oop pass from Maurice Horton into a thunderous reverse dunk, bringing the Trojans -- who never led -- within 28-24.

The dunk accounted for two of Young's 17 points.

"We lost our legs early, and Pfeiffer played outstanding," Clingan said. "Their strategy caused us to rush our shots. We couldn't hit the broad side of a barn from a free-throw standpoint. Some nights, you're just going to have these nights. We're going to be battling Pfeiffer (for the CVAC regular-season title) the rest of the year, and you've got to take care of your home court."

The Trojans, who travel to Coker (S.C.) College on Thursday night, will now face even more pressure to pick up a few road wins as they look up at the Falcons in the conference standings.

Notes: Pfeiffer has won three of the past four meetings in this series, including the 2004 CVAC championship game. ... Mount Olive entered the game ranked second nationally in scoring offense. Pfeiffer was ranked third. ... Pfeiffer's Dele Ojo recorded game highs with 11 rebounds and seven assists. ... Pfeiffer committed 28 turnovers. ... Mount Olive shot 36.6 percent (15 of 41) from the floor during the second half. ... Pfeiffer outrebounded Mount Olive by 11 (49-38). ... Elton Coffield had 15 points and nine rebounds for Mount Olive before fouling out. Horton and Melvin Creddle scored 13 each. ... Pfeiffer hosts Barton on Thursday night.