01/28/05 — MOC women drop third straight CVAC game

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MOC women drop third straight CVAC game

By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on January 28, 2005 1:55 PM

MOUNT OLIVE - An old nemesis, disguised in St. Andrews' blue uniforms, revisited College Hall and haunted -- as it has in the past -- the Mount Olive College women's basketball team.

The Knights effectively utilized a 3-2 zone that frustrated the Trojan women all evening and led to their fourth-worst shooting performance of the season. Mount Olive shot 32.2 percent (19 of 58) from the field in a 55-53 loss, its third straight, in NCAA Division II Carolinas-Virginia Athletics Conference play.

Despite nearly erasing an eight-point deficit in the final minute, the Trojan women (8-7) fell to 6-3 in the CVAC heading into Saturday afternoon's game at Limestone (S.C.) College. Meanwhile, St. Andrews captured its eighth road win of the season and climbed to 5-4 against conference opposition.

Mount Olive assistant coach Brandy Smith admitted the team expected to see a zone defense. She, and head coach Wendy Lawrence, didn't anticipate the Trojan women freezing up offensively -- a problem they encountered last season against zone schemes.

St. Andrews put its tallest player, 6-foot-2 senior Mandy Coltrain, in the middle at the free throw line. Guards Christina Boyd and Ashley Mitchell patrolled the perimeter, while Karen Dewell and Jennifer Burns sat back underneath the basket.

Much to Lawrence's disappointment, the guards didn't attack the zone and the post players couldn't flash into the passing lanes. The lethargic offense produced just two field goals in the first six-plus minutes of play.

"The bulk of their offense is to get the ball inside to those big girls flashing up," Knights coach David Johnson said. "We packed it in, cut off those passing lanes and forced them to take outside shots. They have one good shooter, but everybody else is mid-range.

"We wanted to take away that and force them to be a jump-shooting team."

From that point, Johnson admitted the key was boxing out and keeping the long-armed Trojan women -- ranked in the top 10 nationally in rebounding margin -- off the glass.

Melanie Cobb's layup off Keona Corley's assist gave Mount Olive its biggest lead of the game at 9-2. However, the Knights stayed within striking distance and trailed just 24-20 at halftime.

The Trojan frontcourt of Latoria Harvey and Teneal Boone combined for just four field-goal attempts and seven rebounds. Mount Olive shot 27.6 percent (8 of 29) from the floor and got outscored 14-4 in the paint.

"(It) was more than just the zone," Lawrence said. "We didn't play with the same intensity and same desire that St. Andrews played with. Across the board we didn't have the same effort they had.

"We weren't attacking the gaps, drawing the defense to the ball and we were forcing passes inside."

St. Andrews continued its intense play in the second half and reeled off a 19-8 run during an eight-minute stretch. Harvey, who was hounded by either two or three blue-shirted Knights throughout the game, converted her first field goal off Heidi Busch's assist at the 12:33 mark.

The Knights led 35-32.

Mount Olive's offense suffered a further blow with eight minutes remaining. Ladora Charles and the Knights' Boyd got tied up for a held-ball possession near the St. Andrews basket. Boyd fell to the floor and pulled Charles down with her, which resulted in Charles pushing on Boyd's forehead.

Officials called a flagrant technical foul and ejected Charles. Boyd also received a technical foul, but remained in the game. The lack of a consistent, heady ball handler crippled the Trojan women, who never regained the lead.

Boyd, Coltrain and Burns all hit key baskets as St. Andrews forged ahead 53-45 with 3:34 to go. However, Mount Olive had one last run and used its defense to create offense.

Harvey and LeAnn Simms knocked down back-to-back baskets to pull the Trojan women within 53-49. Cobb blocked a Coltrain 3-pointer with 1 second left on the shot clock and then stole the inbounds pass. She easily cashed in with a layup.

After a turnover near midcourt, Shenetta Moye banked in a short jumper, tying the game at 53-53 with 9 seconds to go.

St. Andrews pushed the ball downcourt and Boyd saved the ball from going out of bounds underneath the basket. Boone and Burns fought for the loose ball, which Burns picked up and dished off to Diana Martinez.

Martinez laid the ball off the glass as time expired, giving the Knights their third straight victory against Mount Olive.

"Oh man," Johnson said. "We let them back in with unforced stuff, but we stayed with it and found a way to win at the end."