03/03/05 — Mount Olive men advance in CVAC tourney

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Mount Olive men advance in CVAC tourney

By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on March 3, 2005 2:10 PM

MOUNT OLIVE - Tagged the "best 10th-seeded team in the country," Lees-McRae never backed down against nationally-ranked Mount Olive College in the 2005 Carolinas-Virginia Athletic Conference men's basketball tournament.

The Bobcats just couldn't strike when it counted the most.

The second-seeded Trojans, ranked No. 13 in the latest Division II Top 25 poll, fended off challenges in each half of their 101-80 victory Wednesday evening at College Hall. They'll face archrival and third-seeded Barton in Friday's semifinal round at Limestone (S.C.) College.

Tip-off is scheduled for 8 p.m.

Just like in its previous seven outings, Mount Olive (25-3) got off to a slow start on both ends of the court. Careless passes in transition and failing to switch screens on defense allowed Lees-McRae (9-20) to stay close the first five minutes. Terrence Sutton's open-court layup and Antwon Brown's two free throws closed the gap to 11-8 with 14:31 remaining.

The game's tempo quickly changed.

After two Sharome Holloway free throws, Victor Young and Elton Coffield each converted turnovers -- off the Trojans' smothering full-court trap -- into layups. Coffield's offensive putback and 3-pointer off Elijah Rouse's assist boosted the Trojans' advantage to 22-8 at the 12:39 mark.

"We take pride in our defense," Young said. "If we play hard and come to play defense, I don't think anyone can beat us. Our defense really helps our offensive game."

Turnovers haunted the Bobcats, who yielded 40 points off 29 miscues. Melvin Creddle emerged the top thief with eight steals, including five in the second half. Overall, seven Trojans recorded at least one steal for a total of 22.

Rouse's two-handed dunk off Young's assist gave Mount Olive its biggest lead, 34-12, past the midway point of the opening half. Lees-McRae chiseled into the lead with 3-pointers from Henri Williams and sharp-shooting Aaron Dugger, but could get no closer than 49-34 at halftime.

Dugger, the Bobcats' No. 2 scorer, had seven points at the break and 20 for the game. Meanwhile Treek Ramseur, the team's top scorer, managed just 10 points -- well below his season average of 16.4.

"That helped us out a whole lot," Young said of Ramseur's offensive struggles. "Both of them run the team. If we can contain one and stop the other, that plays into our favor. (But) man, they always give us a dogfight." Mount Olive, ranked No. 2 in the final East Region poll, started the second half with a 6-0 run.

However, the Trojans gambled more on defense, which aided the Bobcats in their transition game. The visitors eventually pulled within 67-54 on Dugger's 3-pointer -- his third of the contest -- with just under 10 minutes remaining.

Lees-McRae entered the game ranked 16th nationally with made 3-pointers (nine) per game. They equaled their average on 29 attempts, including a 5 of 15 effort in the second half. Dugger and Henri Williams, who recorded 20 points, combined for seven 3-pointers.

"We played hard at times, but we didn't play smart," Trojans coach Bill Clingan said. "Within our presses, we try not to gamble ... try to play fundamental. We reached too much. Sure we won by 21 points and we'll take that to the house, but I wasn't happy.

"They're dangerous. Their first five is as talented as anybody in the league. They can drain the threes, they can run the court and they play hard." Once the Bobcats' run subsided, Coffield took charge.

The sophomore from Williamston collected six of his game-high 29 points, including two baskets off Rouse assists, to push the Trojans' lead to 75-54. Lees-McRae didn't respond and endured its 14th road loss of the season. It was the Bobcats' second quarterfinal-round appearance since 2002 and the third time they've surrendered 100 or more points to an opponent in tournament play.

Mount Olive scored 100 points in a CVAC tournament game for the first time in school history. Young complemented Coffield with a 21-point outing, while Sharome Holloway contributed 12 points and a team-leading seven rebounds.

The Trojans concluded the year 12-1 at home.