03/01/05 — Mount Olive women roll in CVAC tourney opener

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Mount Olive women roll in CVAC tourney opener

By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on March 1, 2005 1:59 PM

MOUNT OLIVE - Tournament time.

One final game on your home court.

Facing a team that can't slow you down on the low posts.

Whatever motivation Mount Olive College senior Latoria Harvey experienced Monday evening, she definitely channeled her emotions into an energetic and effective performance against Limestone (S.C.) College. Harvey collected her 12th double-double -- 23 points, 16 rebounds -- as the Trojans eliminated the Saints 77-59 from the NCAA Division II Carolinas-Virginia Athletics Conference women's basketball tournament.

It was Harvey's third double-double against Limestone.

MOC women's basketball

News-Argus/Kaye Nesbit

Mount Olive forward Latoria Harvey (15) looks to dish off in the post Monday night during the first round of the CVAC women's tournament at College Hall.

"We didn't have an answer for her tonight," Saints coach Corey Fox said. "She dominated play out there and was really tough to guard. There's not much else you can say about her."

Harvey had a double-double -- 15 points, 10 rebounds -- in the first half. The 5-foot-11 forward missed all five field goal attempts in the second half, but countered it with a career-best 13 of 13 effort at the free throw line.

Harvey emerged the Trojans' leading rebounder for the 17th time in 27 games this season. Her 16 rebounds eclipsed her season high of 14 set against Eckerd (Fla.) College on Dec. 21, 2004.

"Latoria has always been consistent, but as far as dominant it's been difficult because teams have keyed on stopping her," Mount Olive coach Wendy Lawrence said. "They've doubled up on her, tripled up on her ... she gets a lot of contact in there and it's hard for her to get her shot off sometimes.

"She's always working hard."

Harvey had some help from Teneal Boone, Heidi Busch and Melanie Cobb. Boone, a 5-10 junior, complemented Harvey with a 14-point, eight-rebound effort. Busch, coming off career highs in points and rebounds against the Saints on Saturday, contributed five points and four rebounds in 17 minutes.

Melanie Cobb, one of the most-athletic players on the team, provided 11 points and six rebounds in 37 minutes.

The strong post play wore down a Saints squad that controlled the boards early. Limestone limited the Trojans (12-15) to just one shot on the offensive end and built a 7-2 lead.

"At this time of the year you know everything they're going to do and they know everything you're going to do," Fox said. "We had a good feel for them early, but once they get going on the offensive board and you give up 17 of them, you just can't win."

Those 17 offensive rebounds, including five each from Harvey and Boone, led to 20 second-chance points.

Harvey pumped in seven straight points during an 18-0 run on two layups and an old-fashioned three-point play nearly midway through the first half. After LeAnn Simms buried a 3-pointer which forced a Saints timeout, Harvey and Busch combined for six points off offensive rebounds.

Simms' steal and layup boosted the advantage to 26-13.

"The second opportunities, making a stop on defense and then turning the ball over makes it difficult for you to stay in the ball game," Fox said.

Limestone, which obliged the Trojans with 25 points off 26 turnovers, regained its composure and pulled within 31-23 with 3:22 to go. The teams traded baskets with Mount Olive leading 37-26 at halftime.

The Saints converted their first two possessions of the second half, but would get no closer. Simms turned a Boone steal into a layup. Freshman guard Ashley Jones drained back-to-back jumpers, including a 3-pointer, for a 46-30 advantage.

Fox burned another timeout.

"Ashley ran the offense like we needed her to do and she hit some shots to give us a spark," Lawrence said. "She has not been able to play a lot in the past few games, but we've been working on getting her confidence up and helping her prepare for the pressure she's going to face.

"What better time to step in and contribute than right here at tournament time. I can't say enough about her contribution tonight."

Jones finished with five points, three assists, one steal and didn't commit a turnover in 20 minutes of play. However, the Jones-led run continued for four-plus minutes. Cobb knocked down two jumpers off Jones assists, while Harvey and Busch did the damage inside.

Mount Olive grabbed its biggest lead, 57-34, with just under 12 minutes remaining in the contest. The 11th-seeded Saints, who have lost three consecutive opening-round CVAC Tournament games, never threatened from that point.

The sixth-seeded Trojans won their third straight first-round tournament game and travel to archrival Barton on Wednesday. Tip-off is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. at Wilson Gymnasium.

The third-seeded Bulldogs swept the regular-season series.

"We need to concentrate on what it's going to take to win the next game," Lawrence said. "We need to think of another milestone of being the first women's team at Mount Olive to be in the (CVAC) final four. That needs to be a goal for us now."

Notes: In the other first-round game, 10th-seeded Coker upset seventh-seeded Lees-McRae 63-58. ... Queens and Pfeiffer did not play due to inclement weather conditions. ... The Trojans picked up their 12th win, which is their most-productive campaign since finishing 14-13 in 1996. ... Mount Olive has won three of the past five regular-season meetings, all at home, against the Saints. ... The teams are 1-1 against each other in CVAC Tournament play.