02/04/05 — MOC women drop fifth straight

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MOC women drop fifth straight

By Gabe Whisnant
Published in Sports on February 4, 2005 1:57 PM

MOUNT OLIVE - Mount Olive women's basketball coach Wendy Lawrence and her Lady Trojans looked poised and well in position to post their first regular-season sweep of archrival Barton during Lawrence's five-year tenure.

A streaking Bulldogs team posted a huge run in the late stages of the second half that crushed those ideas.

Keyed by reserve guards Keona Corley and Anita Rogers, Mount Olive led 45-35 with nine minutes left, before the Bulldogs outscored the Trojans 23-6 on their way to a 58-51 win at College Hall.

Down the stretch, Mount Olive had a handful of crucial turnovers, while Barton forward Kelly Lamotta went to work down low. Lamotta scored 10 of her 18 points during the Bulldogs' game-clinching run.

"They hit some big shots down the stretch and we didn't take care of the ball and turned it over in some key possessions," Lawrence said. "They got it inside and got some good shots."

The win was Barton's eighth in nine outings as it improved to 9-7 overall and 8-3 in the Carolinas-Virginia Athletic Conference. Mount Olive (8-9 overall), playing without leading scorer and rebounder Latoria Harvey, fell to 6-5 in the CVAC and dropped its fifth straight -- the last three coming in heart-breaking fashion late in the game.

The lineup of Corley, Rogers, Melanie Cobb, Teneal Boone and Heidi Busch guided the Trojans' during a 19-4 stretch that saw Mount Olive turn a five-point deficit into a 10-point lead in a seven-minute span. Corley, Rogers and Cobb caused constant turnovers in the backcourt, while Boone and Busch controlled Lamotta and teammate Keauna Vinson under the boards.

Boone led the Trojans with 13 points and 10 rebounds, while Cobb added 10 points and eight boards. Rogers posted seven points off of the bench as Corley dished out seven assists and swiped five steals.

Near the 10-minute mark of the second half, Cobb went out of the game with a leg cramp and didn't return until Barton had already trimmed the margin down to 49-46. Lawrence pointed to a break-down in chemistry late in the game.

"Those changes that had to be made late affected our chemistry. As a result it affected our momentum, and it turned the other way," Lawrence said. "I feel like the group that was out there gave us a big lift on defense and it affected our offense and we were able to g et a good lead.

"But you never feel safe or comfortable against a good team like Barton."

Barton took the lead for good with just under two minutes left on a put-back by Lamotta and never trailed again. The Trojans had a golden opportunity to retake the lead at 1:15, but missed out on a 3-on-1 chance. From there, Kim Butts and Lamotta nailed key free throws to put the game away.

The first half proved to be a defensive struggle as Mount Olive's press and man defense forced 10 turnovers, while Barton's extended, 2-3 zone matched the Trojans defense -- also posting ten forced turnovers. Mount Olive was just nine-for-28 (32 percent) from the floor before intermission as the Bulldogs didn't fair much better at eight-for-21 (38 percent).

Barton held two, six-point leads -- the last coming at the 3:01 mark of the first half after a three-point play by Jennifer DeWitt. The Bulldogs took a slim, 23-22 margin into the locker room.

Mount Olive returns to action on Saturday at Erskine (S.C.). Tip-off is 2 p.m.

"We just have lost some confidence with three straight that could have gone either way ... a matter of a bucket at the end that could have changed the game," Lawrence said. "I don't think we are struggling, I think we just lack confidence and need to pull together and focus on our strengths.

"Hopefully it will help us down the stretch as we get closer to the tournament."

Notes: The Trojans' second-leading scorer, Ladora Charles (11.7 ppg), was held to five points in 14 minutes of action. Without Harvey, Mount Olive won the battle on the boards 32-30. Mount Olive has now outrebounded 14 out of 16 opponents this season and is ranked in the top 20 in the nation in rebounding margin. Barton shot 15 more free throws than the Trojans and finished 18-of-25 from the stripe. Mount Olive was an efficient, nine-of-10 at the line. The Trojan bench outscored Barton 20-5.