03/24/05 — Dream season ends: Bulldogs shoot dowm MOC at Elite Eight

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Dream season ends: Bulldogs shoot dowm MOC at Elite Eight

Published in Sports on March 24, 2005 2:17 PM

GRAND FORKS, N.D. -- Bryant (R.I.) University coach Max Good asked who was in charge of building maintenance after the game.

The Bryant locker room, he said, might need a new paint job "because we blistered the paint off the wall at halftime."

Good was livid after the first 20 minutes, as his team trailed Mount Olive of North Carolina 39-33.

Bryant junior guard John Williams was asked about Good's halftime speech. "Coach really got after us, really challenged us to get better."

Mission accomplished. Buoyed by 66.7 percent shooting in the second half, the Bulldogs rallied hard for an 84-69 victory against Mount Olive in the NCAA Division II Elite Eight quarterfinals Wednesday in Ralph Engelstad Arena.

Bryant will meet Tarleton State of Texas in today's semifinals. Tarleton State, the No. 7 seed out of the South Central Regional, defeated Cal Poly Pomona 58-56 in the quarterfinals.

Mount Olive ended its season at 29-5, including its first trip to the Elite Eight.

"All in all, I'm really proud of our guys," Mount Olive coach Bill Clingan said. "They broke new barriers to get here."

Junior guard Victor Young scored 23 points and sophomore guard Elton Coffield added 14 for Mount Olive.

Williams fueled a Bryant comeback, scoring a game-high 27 points.

Clingan said his team struggled with the lead early in the second half.

"You have to play to win now," he told his players. "You're playing not to lose."

Williams' 3-pointer with 8 minutes, 26 seconds left in the game gave the Bulldogs a 66-58 lead. It was part of an 8-0 Bryant run that was started and finished by Mario Correia.

The senior guard put down a slam dunk for a 63-58 lead and scored off a drive for a 69-58 lead. He finished with 26 points.

What got into the Bulldogs at the break?

"I thought we played smarter on defense and more assertively on offense in the second half," Good said.

Bryant trailed by six points with just more than 14 minutes left. The Bulldogs (24-8) then went on a 25-8 scoring run, capped by the 8-0 spurt.

Williams, who made five 3-pointers and committed just two turnovers at point guard while playing the entire 40 minutes, credited the team's passing. He said the Bulldogs did a good job of moving the ball.

When passing, Bryant has the equivalent of a second point guard in the post in 6-foot-11 Mike Williams, who's no relation to John Williams. Mike Williams had a team-high five assists. He added eight points, eight rebounds and six blocks.

"We couldn't find an answer for No. 50 (Williams)," Clingan said.

Mount Olive had a 41-36 rebounding edge, led by Sharome Holloway's 12 boards. The difference was shooting, as the Bulldogs finished 50 percent from the field, compared to Mount Olive's 39.1 percent.

Bryant, of Smithfield, R.I., also hit nine 3-pointers.

"Sometimes it comes down to that sometimes you make shots and sometimes you don't," Good said.

Chris Burns added 12 points for the Bulldogs, including some key second-half baskets.

Mount Olive rallied from a 10-1 deficit early to take the six-point halftime lead.

"I didn't feel comfortable, even going into the locker room," Clingan said.

He said his team looked tired.

"This is the first time here," Clingan said. "I think as a team we panicked a little bit."

Good said maybe it would have been better if his team would have jumped to a 10-7 lead instead of a 10-1 spurt.

"I think it hurt us, but we won't change the script," he said. "I'll take the result."

Mount Olive sophomore forward Chris Bartley said his team struggled in the second half.

"We didn't communicate good enough and lost focus," Bartley said.

Bartley was impressed by John Williams.

"He knows what he's doing," Bartley said of Williams, who scored more than 20 points against both Connecticut and Maryland in exhibition games this season. "He knows how to get open. He's an outstanding point guard."