02/08/05 — Pfeiffer halts streaking MOC men

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Pfeiffer halts streaking MOC men

Published in Sports on February 8, 2005 1:56 PM

MISENHEIMER - The first half of Mount Olive's men's basketball game at Pfeiffer Monday was everything as advertised. Unfortunately for the Trojans, the second half was "The Rico Grier Show."

Grier scored 25 of his game-high 32 points in the second half as nationally 21st-ranked Pfeiffer broke away from a one-point halftime lead to defeat Mount Olive 99-78 in Carolinas-Virginia Athletics Conference men's basketball Monday night. The loss snapped the Trojans' eight-game winning streak and dropped them a game behind Pfeiffer to second place in the CVAC standings.

Mount Olive (17-3 overall, 11-2 CVAC) scored the first six points of the game on 3-pointers by Melvin Creddle and Maurice Horton. The Trojans held a two-point lead when Horton's third three-pointer of the half highlighted a 9-0 run and gave the Trojans its biggest lead at 29-18.

Pfeiffer (16-3, 12-1) combined the inside play of Damien Argett with the outside shooting of its three-guard offense to chip away at the lead until the Falcons took their first lead at 40-39 with 45 seconds left in the half. Elton Coffield answered with a three for the Trojans, but Rick Buffaloe hit a 3-pointer for Pfeiffer, which went into the locker room with a 43-42 lead at halftime.

Mount Olive coach Bill Clingan countered Pfeiffer's five-at-a-time substitutions with numerous substitutions of his own in an attempt to keep his players fresh for the second half. He also wanted his team to dictate tempo, trying to keep Pfeiffer out of its frantic uptempo game. Clingan says his game plan was working until his team started to get impatient on offense.

"For most of the half, we were running our offense as I wanted, making the extra pass and finding the good shot, and that took Pfeiffer out of their game," said Clingan. "But then we started taking quick shots and letting Pfeiffer force us into their tempo, and that's when they started coming back."

In the first meeting between the two teams this season, Pfeiffer was 16-for-28 from 3-point range, while Mount Olive was 4-for-25. In the first half Monday, Mount Olive was 6-for-12 from beyond the arc, while Pfeiffer was 6-for-17.

Horton had 15 points at the break, while Creddle had 11. Argett had 12 points at halftime, including 6-for-6 from the free-throw line as he converted two three-point plays. Grier was held to seven points in the first half. He would change that in a hurry in the second half.

Grier, who was only 1-for-3 from 3-point range in the first half, connected on each of his first five shots from beyond the arc in the second half, even hitting one off the dribble from NBA range. The game was tied 54-54 when Pfeiffer scored eight unanswered points to build the lead to 62-54.

Pfeiffer held an 11-point lead and appeared ready to add to it when Argett went for a two-handed slam dunk, but Elijah Rouse blocked the shot and the Trojans pulled within 69-60 after Sharome Holloway hit both ends of a one-and-one on a foul on the other end.

"I thought that was going to be a turning point in the game after Elijah made that block," said Clingan. "I felt that could give us a spark and swing the momentum our way."

Instead, Jason Emerson answered with back-to-back 3-pointers for Pfeiffer to build the lead to 15 points and the Trojans never got any closer than 13 the rest of the way. Pfeiffer's biggest lead was 22 points.

Horton finished with 20 points for the Trojans, while Creddle added 17. Victor Young pulled down a game-high nine rebounds.

Argett totaled 18 points for Pfeiffer, while Emerson hit five three-pointers and finished with 16 points. Pfeiffer was 8-for-16 from beyond the arc in the second half. The Falcons were 19-for-21 from the free throw line, compared to 12-for-20 for Mount Olive.

The loss was only the second for Mount Olive since Thanksgiving weekend, with both losses coming to Pfeiffer, which won its ninth game in a row.

Mount Olive entered the game ranked No. 5 in the NCAA II East Region Top 10, while Pfeiffer is ranked No. 2. Monday's game will not be included in this week's rankings, which will be announced Wednesday.

"This was a tough loss," said Clingan. "But I told the team it's just one game and there is still a lot of basketball to be played. We still have our same goals to win the conference and go to regionals. I told them to put this game behind them and get ready for the next game."

Mount Olive returns to action Thursday as the Trojans play host to Coker in a CVAC match-up. Tip-off is 7:30 p.m. at College Hall.