01/16/05 — CVAC -- Mount Olive women now 6-0 in league

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CVAC -- Mount Olive women now 6-0 in league

By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on January 16, 2005 2:00 AM

MOUNT OLIVE -- "Ball, ball, ball!"

Assistant coach Brandy Smith shouted the word over and over as Mount Olive applied the defensive pressure on possession after possession. Eight minutes into the game, the Trojans had collected nearly as many field goals as it caused turnovers from its man-to-man scheme against Lees-McRae.

"We had some very good deny defense," Mount Olive senior Ladora Charles said. "We have a thing called 'stick defense' that takes away the middle pass, forces them to the baseline and takes away their offense."

The strategy constantly disrupted the Bobcats' offense and induced some early frustration as Mount Olive cruised to a 65-50 victory in NCAA Division II Carolinas-Virginia Athletics Conference action. The Trojans (8-4) continued their best league start in program history at 6-0 and remained unbeaten in four outings at College Hall.

Charles emerged one of three Mount Olive players in double figures with 12 points. Teneal Boone added 12, while Latoria Harvey notched her third double-double -- 12 points, 10 rebounds -- in the last five games.

Mount Olive recorded 16 steals and seven blocked shots as a team and converted 28 Bobcat turnovers into 30 points.

"Our defense is our offense," Charles said. "If we don't play good defense, we don't have a good offense. It's important for us to play well on defense."

The Trojans shot nearly 53 percent (9 of 17) from the floor in the first eight minutes of the game. Lees-McRae used its second 30-second timeout in less than a minute after Charles' baseline jumper and Corley's layup off a steal boosted the score to 19-6.

Corley and frontcourt mate LeAnn Simms constantly pressured the ball on the perimeter all afternoon, forcing turnovers and preventing the Bobcats from getting into an offensive rhythm. Lees-McRae (7-6, 4-2 CVAC) fell behind by as many as 22 points after Boone buried a jumper off Corley's assist -- one of six on the day.

Corley and Simms combined for nine first-half steals which helped Mount Olive tally points in its fast-break offense.

"You have to give credit to Keona and LeAnn," Trojans coach Wendy Lawrence said. "With their pressure on the ball, it's hard for a guard to enter the offense and it disrupted them, made it difficult for them to get the ball inside to Deanna Lady and Stephanie Mullinax.

"The pressure helped cut back on some of their inside points because they weren't able to get as many passes inside."

Lady finished with 11 points, below her season average of 16.5. The Trojans limited Mullinax, who had 19 points on Thursday against Queens University, to seven points on 3 of 7 shooting from the floor.

Mount Olive dominated the points in the paint 44-24 and picked up 16 points off 17 offensive rebounds. The Trojans, ranked 10th nationally in rebound margin at 10.8, owned a 44-40 edge on the glass against the Bobcats. It's the 11th time in 12 games that Lawrence's team has won the rebounding battle.

Down 45-22 with 15:16 remaining, the Bobcats unleashed a 19-7 spurt that lasted for eight-plus minutes. They began hustling for loose balls, boxing out underneath the basket and overplaying the passing lanes on defense.

Julie Hardison nailed two 3-pointers and Lady controlled the middle as Lees-McRae pulled within 52-41 with just over seven minutes remaining in regulation.

"It was us," Charles said of the lull. "We got a little sloppy and that's where we have to pick it up, like myself, and take control of the game. We need to make sure our post players and everybody else are ready to execute."

Boone's layup off Heidi Busch's assist stopped the run and resulted in another Lees-McRae timeout. However, the Bobcats wouldn't threaten again as Busch, Corley and Harvey combined for eight points for a 62-44 advantage at the 4:01 mark.

Corley -- who took two charges during the Trojans' late-game surge -- contributed seven points, eight rebounds, six steals and six assists in 34 minutes.

Mount Olive is now 7-0 when scoring 60 or more points.

Notes: Heidi Busch, who hadn't picked up a basketball in 21/2 years before this season, collected seven points, three rebounds, two steals and blocked two shots in 16 minutes. ... Six players on Lees-McRae's roster hail from Tennessee. ... The Trojans didn't play a non-conference game at home this season, finishing 2-4 on the road. ... Mount Olive shot 39.1 percent at the free throw line, well below its season average of 59.9, against the Bobcats.