01/11/05 — MOC women remain unbeaten in conference play

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MOC women remain unbeaten in conference play

By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on January 11, 2005 1:55 PM

MOUNT OLIVE - Double-teamed throughout the first half, Latoria Harvey decided to focus on defense and help prevent Pfeiffer University from gaining any considerable offensive momentum.

The 5-foot-11 senior grabbed numerous offensive rebounds to keep possessions alive for Mount Olive College as it built a double-digit lead midway through the opening half.

Pfeiffer and Mount Olive

Bobby Williams

Mount Olive College senior Latoria Harvey gets pushed from behind after grabbing a rebound.

When the Trojan women needed Harvey offensively in the second half, the former Union High standout answered the call in dominating fashion. Harvey poured in a career-high 33 points as Mount Olive College turned back Pfeiffer 77-62 in their NCAA Division II Carolinas-Virginia Athletic Conference battle Monday evening.

The Trojan women, who played their fourth game in an eight-day span, remained unbeaten in four CVAC outings -- their best league start in program history. They continue play Thursday at Coker (S.C.) College.

Pfeiffer opened the game in a tight 2-3 zone and pressured the guards on the perimeter. The Falcons overplayed the passing lanes and denied passes inside to Harvey and 6-1 frontcourt mate Teneal Boone. The defensive strategy allowed Pfeiffer to take a 5-0 lead less than three minutes into the contest at College Hall.

"Since my offense wasn't going, I knew I had to go with my defense," Harvey said. "So, I hustled and helped my teammates out."

Harvey's defensive tenacity on the boards and the Trojans' harrassing play on the perimeter forced 11 Pfeiffer turnovers in the first 10 minutes. The Trojan women converted half of those miscues during a 14-2 run en route to a lead they'd never relinquish.

Ladora Charles' baseline jumper gave Mount Olive its biggest lead at 26-12 with nine minutes to go.

However, Pfeiffer found a way to stay within striking distance. The Falcons countered the Trojans' press by releasing a player downcourt and the scheme caught Mount Olive's players off guard several times.

"We had a mental breakdown -- confusion about who people were guarding at the time," Harvey said of the Trojans' transition defense. "Once we got in the huddle and talked about it, we picked up our intensity."

Pfeiffer trailed 35-29 at halftime.

Mount Olive readjusted its defense at halftime and continued with its game plan of pressuring the ball on the perimeter. Charles and backcourt mate Keona Corley came up with several steals that sparked an 11-2 run.

"Coming out strong in the second half and getting a couple of early baskets really gave us a lift," Trojan coach Wendy Lawrence said.

Lawrence switched offenses and Corley began penetrating the Pfeiffer defense. Once the Falcons committed to double teaming her, she dished off to Harvey on the right side for easy bank shots off the glass.

Harvey scored 10 straight points in one stretch. She established season highs for field-goal percentage (68.4), free-throw percentage (77.8), field goals made (9), free throws attempted (9), free throws made (7) and steals (6).

"Once Keona started drawing the defense toward her, she dropped the ball off to me and I had some open looks," Harvey said.

Mount Olive cruised ahead by 17 points, but could never finish off the pesky Falcons. Pfeiffer continued to catch the Trojans flat-footed in their transition defense and whittled the deficit to 55-45 with just under 10 minutes remaining in regulation.

Harvey stopped the run with a three-point play.

Two Corley free throws and Harvey's uncontested layup, off Melanie Cobb's steal and assist, boosted the Trojans' advantage to 63-48 at the seven-minute mark. Pfeiffer never threatened from that point.

"I was really pleased with everybody's effort," Lawrence said. "From start to finish, we continue to work really hard on defense and get second chances. I have to commend Pfeiffer, too, because they never let up and were never really out of the game."

Mount Olive, ranked 9th nationally in rebound margin, owned a 46-29 edge on the boards. The Trojans grabbed a season-high 29 offensive rebounds, which led to 19 second-chance points.