Trojan men taste 'little victories' against N.C. State
Published in Sports on November 13, 2005 2:01 AM
RALEIGH -- For Elijah Rouse, Mount Olive's basketball game against North Carolina State wasn't about the final score. It was about the "little victories."
Cameron Bennerman led four players in double figures as N.C. State defeated Mount Olive 97-56 in a men's basketball exhibition game Friday evening at the RBC Center. The Trojans outrebounded the Wolfpack 39-38, but N.C. State owned a decisive 41-9 edge at the free throw line.
Elton Coffield and Victor Young led Mount Olive with 11 points apiece. Rouse and Montel Jones shared game-high honors with seven rebounds apiece, while redshirt freshman Chris Holloway pulled down six boards for the Trojans.
After Young's jumper from the right corner tied the game 2-2, Bennerman's three-pointer triggered a Wolfpack run of 14 unanswered points and N.C. State led by double figures the rest of the way. Coffield's basket with 13:27 left in the first half ended a four-minute scoring drought for the Trojans.
N.C. State built the lead to 23 points before Jones capped a 9-0 run with a three-pointer to pull the Trojans within 29-15 with 7:39 remaining in the half. But the Wolfpack answered with a 12-0 run of its own.
After a missed free throw by the Wolfpack, the Trojans appeared headed to score the final points of the half as Young drove an open baseline, but his dunk attempt was rejected by Andrew Brackman. Bennerman found Gavin Grant on an outlet pass and Grant hit a three-pointer at the buzzer to give N.C. State a 46-20 lead at the half.
N.C. State shot 70.6 percent from the field in the first half, including 5-of-7 three-pointers. The Wolfpack were 17-for-27 from the line going into intermission, compared to 4-for-9 for Mount Olive.
Maurice Horton hit a three-pointer 10 seconds into the second half for Mount Olive, but N.C. State built the lead to 30 points on a 9-2 run, sparked by a pair of dunks by Andrew Brackman.
Young and Melvin Creddle connected on three-pointers for Mount Olive and Coffield converted a three-point play, but N.C. State's lead never fell below 30.
Young scored nine of his points in the second half, while Coffield had seven after intermission. Jones finished with eight points for the Trojans.
Mount Olive was whistled for 40 fouls as five Trojans fouled out. Antoine Griffin picked up three fouls in a span of 51 seconds early in the second half and fouled out with 17:52 left in the game. Coffield, Horton, Chuckie Jefferson and Justin Egdorf also fouled out for the Trojans.
N.C. State was 41-for-61 from the line, while the Trojans were 9-for-16.
"Considering the free throw margin, I don't think the score was indicative of how hard our guys played," said Trojan head coach Bill Clingan. "I'm proud of how our kids never stopped battling. No matter what the score, they continued to work on the things we wanted them to work on."
Clingan says the Trojans got what they wanted out of the game.
"N.C. State is an enormously talented team and we knew that going in," said Clingan. "We're just taking the experiences from tonight and last week (against UNC-Wilmington) and building for regular season play."
"We weren't going into the game looking to win, we just wanted to execute," said Rouse, a junior from Kinston. "We just wanted to do the fundamentals. We might not have won the game, but we got the little victories."
Grant finished with 16 points for N.C. State, while Ben McCauley scored 15 points and Brandon Costner added 12 points for the Wolfpack. Grant and McCauley were both 9-for-13 from the free throw line. The Wolfpack shot 66.7 percent (24-for-36) from the field.
One of the highlights of the night actually came during pre-game warm-ups when 5-foot-10 freshman point guard Justin Melton entertained Trojan and Wolfpack fans with an array of slam dunks. Melton dished out a team-high four assists in the game.
Friday's game was the Trojans' second against a Division I opponent and marked the second year in a row the Trojans played an exhibition game against an Atlantic Coast Conference team. Mount Olive played North Carolina at the Dean Dome last year.
Young says the game was a positive experience for the Trojans.
"We won't see any big men during the regular season like we saw tonight against N.C. State," said Young, a senior from Goldsboro. "And the Wolfpack fans really get into it. If you can play in front of these fans, you can play anywhere."
Mount Olive has one more week of preseason practice, then opens its regular season next weekend as the Trojans play host to the 40th Pickle Classic. Friday's first-round games pit Mount Olive against Lees-McRae and Chowan against UNC Pembroke. The consolation and championship games take place the next day at Kornegay Arena.
Coach Clingan says the team still has work to do, but that the squad is moving in the right direction.
"We're still a ways away from being the ball club we need to be, but we're making the turn," said Clingan. "It's just a matter of blending the returning players and newcomers together and finding the right combinations. Next weekend will be a big test."
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