02/07/06 — Mount Olive College - A rare loss at home

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Mount Olive College - A rare loss at home

By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on February 7, 2006 2:21 PM

MOUNT OLIVE -- Barton's frontcourt duo of Alejo Barovero and Mark Friscone made sure that archrival Mount Olive College paid dearly for its mental breakdowns on defense Monday evening.

Barovero and Friscone combined for four key baskets in a three-minute span as the nationally-ranked Bulldogs denied the Trojans' upset bid 85-78 before nearly 1,100 fans at Kornegay Arena. Barton, which climbed to No. 8 in the NABC Division II Top 25 poll, remained perfect in 15 outings against Carolinas-Virginia Athletics Conference opposition this season.

The Bulldogs (18-1) snapped Mount Olive's 19-game home win streak and moved within one victory of clinching the regular-season CVAC championship for the first time since 2001. The Trojans, ranked No. 4 in the East Region, dipped to 16-5 overall and 10-4 in league play.

"Barovero killed us down the stretch, and Friscone comes in and hits two or three big threes (late)," said Trojans assistant coach Joey Higginbotham. "Every time we got (to within) three or five, they'd hit a big shot. They did what they're supposed to do, but we've got to keep our composure a little better.

"We don't answer (runs) as good as we should."

Barovero emerged one of four Barton players in double figures with 26 points on 9 of 16 shooting from the floor. Friscone provided 12 points, which included a 3 of 4 effort behind the 3-point line. Casey Moore and Anthony Atkinson contributed 20 and 10 points, respectively.

Moore, one of three Bulldogs who average double figures, provided an offensive spark early in the second half. The senior forward converted two, old-fashioned three-point plays and collected 13 of the Bulldogs' 25 points during a seven-minute stretch.

Moore's second three-point play gave Barton its biggest lead -- 61-47 -- with just under 13 minutes remaining in the intense and emotioned-filled contest.

Seven different Trojans either hit a field goal or free throw during a spectacular 19-8 run that re-energized what been a quiet home crowd. Junior Elton Coffield, a preseason All-American candidate, closed the gap to 69-66 with a pair of free throws at the 5:17 mark. Coffield tallied 15 of his game-high 27 points in the second half.

But the Trojans' most-crucial defensive lapse occurred just seconds later. They failed to drop back in transition and allowed Barovero to score an uncontested layup. Friscone got an open look on the perimeter and drained a 3-pointer half a minute later. The Bulldogs led 74-66.

"Mental breakdowns. That's all this game was about ... who was going to be mentally strong the whole 40 minutes," said Trojan guard Maurice Horton. "It showed in the last couple of minutes. We weren't mentally strong and it ran in spurts. We went through our dumb spells and it hurt us.

"We played hard, don't get me wrong, but we weren't there; weren't focused the whole 40 minutes. We thought we could do it, but we didn't believe in ourselves."

Melvin Creddle, who dished out six assists and grabbed five steals, and Horton kept Mount Olive within striking distance. The duo combined for the Trojans' final 12 points, including seven at the free throw line.

Barovero added his second 3-pointer of the game and hit three free throws to silence Mount Olive's comeback attempt. Barton claimed its eighth CVAC road win of the season and ninth overall against one defeat.

"Maurice was right," said Higginbotham. "When it comes to a mental game, it doesn't mean who beats who (physically). We beat ourselves tonight. We've got to be a lot more mentally tough."

The late-game mental collapse was just a microcosm of the Trojans' troubles.

Missed assignments on defense allowed the Bulldogs to grab numerous offensive rebounds, which led to eight second-chance points early in the opening half. Barton twice erased five-point deficits and took its first lead, 15-14, on Bobby McNeil's short jumper in the lane.

Chris Bartley's layup, off Victor Young's assist, gave Mount Olive its last lead at 16-15. The Bulldogs held the Trojans to just two field goals during a five-minute span and extended their lead to 31-22.

The Bulldogs led 36-31 at halftime.

"They play hard and they play together," Horton said of Barton. "They believe in each other, and that's what wins ball games."

BARTON (18-1, 15-0)

Mark Friscone 1 3 1-2 12, Alejo Barovero 7 2 6-7 26, Anthony Atkinson 2 1 3-4 10, Casey Moore 5 2 4-4 20, Courtney Coffer 0 0 1-2 1, Bobby Buffaloe 1 1 1-1 6, Errol Frails 0 0 1-2 1, Bobby McNeil 3 0 0-0 6, Brian Leggett 1 0 1-2 3. TOTALS -- 20 9 18-24 85.

MOUNT OLIVE (16-5, 10-4)

Elijah Rouse 4 0 2-2 10, Chris Bartley 3 0 1-3 7, Maurice Horton 2 1 7-7 14, Victor Young 3 0 0-0 6, Melvin Creddle 4 1 3-6 14, Montel Jones 0 0 0-0 0, Chris Holloway 0 0 0-0 0, Justin Melton 0 0 0-0 0, Elton Coffield 5 4 5-5 27. TOTALS -- 21 6 18-23 78.

Halftime -- Barton 36-31. 3-point goals -- Barton 9-22 (Friscone 3-4, Barovero 2-7, Atkinson 1-7, Moore 2-2, Coffier 0-1, Buffaloe 1-1), Mount Olive 6-22 (Bartley 0-4, Horton 1-2, Young 0-5, Creddle 1-4, Coffield 4-7). Rebounds -- Barton 35 (Barovero, Moore 6), Mount Olive 35 (Creddle 9). Assists -- Barton 14 (Atkinson 6), Mount Olive 15 (Creddle 6). Turnovers -- Barton 17, Mount Olive 17. Blocked shots -- Barton 7 (Friscone 5), Mount Olive 4. Steals -- Barton 10 (Atkinson, Moore 3), Mount Olive 10 (Creddle 4). A -- 1,052.