MOC falls in CVAC title game
Published in Sports on March 6, 2005 2:12 AM
MOC Sports Information
GAFFNEY, S.C. -- The Mount Olive College men's basketball team came up short on its bid for its first-ever conference tournament championship. On the bright side, the Trojans may have an opportunity to compete for their first-ever NCAA championship.
DeMario Grier scored 27 points and tournament Most Valuable Player Damien Argrett scored 18 of his 25 points in the first half as top-seeded and nationally 14th-ranked Pfeiffer defeated No. 2 seed and nationally 13th-ranked Mount Olive 98-84 in the championship game of the 2005 Carolinas-Virginia Athletics Conference Men's Basketball Tournament Saturday at Gaffney, S.C., hosted by Limestone College.
Elton Coffield scored 22 points for the Trojans, while Maurice Horton added 17 as both players were named to the All-Tournament Team. The all-tournament selection was the second in as many years for Horton. Melvin Creddle narrowly missed a triple-double with 14 points, nine assists and eight rebounds.
The win gives Pfeiffer an automatic bid to the East Regional of the NCAA Division II Men's Basketball Championship, which gets underway Saturday. Pfeiffer, ranked No. 1 in the region, will likely host the East Regional for the second consecutive year.
Despite the loss, Mount Olive, ranked No. 2 in the region, is expected to earn an at-large bid to the championship. The Trojans could be seeded as high as No. 2 in the East Regional, thanks in part to losses by regionally third-ranked Salem International and fourth-ranked Alderson-Broaddus in the semifinals of the West Virginia Intercollegiate Athletic Conference Tournament.
Mount Olive (26-4) fell behind 11-1 and did not score a field goal until Plinio Broering hit a layup more than four minutes into the game. The Trojans took their first lead after consecutive baskets by Creddle and Horton's layup off a steal capped a 21-4 run as Mount Olive took a 22-15 lead with 10:16 left in the first half.
Pfeiffer (26-4) pulled within four, but Coffield hit a layup on a length-of-the-court pass by Chris Bartley, then hit back-to-back three-pointers 26 seconds apart to give the Trojans their biggest lead at 38-25 with 4:02 remaining before halftime.
But after a Pfeiffer timeout, the Falcons scored the next nine points, including a three-point play by Argrett, who also hit a short basket with 1:59 remaining to put Pfeiffer back on top 40-39. Pfeiffer outscored Mount Olive 19-3 to end the first half to take a 44-41 lead at halftime.
Argrett, who scored the last basket of the first half, connected 16 seconds into the second half as Pfeiffer scored the first six points after the break to build a 50-41 lead. Mount Olive got as close as seven, but Rico Grier hit a pair of free throws with 16:01 remaining to give Pfeiffer a 10-point with 16:01 remaining and the Falcons led by double digits the rest of the way.
Pfeiffer, which defeated the Trojans by more than 20 points in each of the two regular season meetings, built the lead to as many as 22 points after Rico Grier hit a three-pointer with 9:36 remaining to give the Falcons an 80-58 lead.
DeMario Grier went 14-for-15 from the free throw line for Pfeiffer, connecting on all eight attempts in the second half. Pfeiffer led by 20 points before Montel Jones and Coffield both hit three-pointers in the last minute for the final margin.
Mount Olive, which shot 78.0 percent (32-for-41) from the free throw line in Friday's semifinal win over Barton, shot only 56.0 percent Saturday against Pfeiffer, going 14-for-25 from the line. Pfeiffer went 36-for-42 from the line for 85.7 percent. Rico Grier scored 13 of his 15 points in the second half for Pfeiffer.
The CVAC championship is the second in a row for Pfeiffer, which also defeated Mount Olive in last year's title game.
Mount Olive had its nine-game winning streak snapped Saturday. Ironically, the Trojans had a seven-game winning streak snapped in their first loss to Pfeiffer and an eight-game winning streak halted in their second loss to Pfeiffer.
Mount Olive is 24-3 since Thanksgiving weekend, with all three losses at the hands of Pfeiffer.
The Trojans will find out their post-season fate during the NCAA Division II Men's Basketball Championship Selection Show, which airs Sunday night at 10:30 p.m. after the women's basketball selections are announced. The selection show will air on C-SET (Carolina Sports and Entertainment Television) on Channel 140 on Time-Warner Cable.
The show will also air on Channels 621 and 644 on DirecTV and Channels 410 and 412 on Dish Network. A live webcast is also available on NCAAsports.com. (A link will be provided on the Mount Olive College athletics web page at www.moc.edu/athletics.)
Mount Olive hopes for its second NCAA II post-season bid in as many years. The Trojans made their first-ever NCAA II appearance last year, earning an at-large bid as the No. 7 seed in the East Regional.
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