03/01/06 — Clingan: It's survive and advance time for MOC

View Archive

Clingan: It's survive and advance time for MOC

Published in Sports on March 1, 2006 2:33 PM

Heading into the Carolinas-Virginia Athletics Conference Men's Basketball Tournament, nationally 25th-ranked Mount Olive has won 41 of its last 44 home games. The Trojans hope that homecourt advantage can lead to a conference championship.

Mount Olive opens play in the 2006 CVAC Men's Basketball Tournament as the second-seeded Trojans play host to No. 10 seed Lees-McRae in quarterfinal-round play at Kornegay Arena. Tipoff is 7 p.m.

The winner advances to the "Final Four" Friday and Saturday at Kornegay Arena as Mount Olive hosts the semifinals and championship game. The tournament champion earns an automatic bid to the East Regional of the NCAA II Men's Basketball Championship.

Mount Olive (22-5 overall, 16-4 CVAC) is playing its second game in a row against Lees-McRae, having overcome a sluggish start to defeat the Bobcats 90-80 Saturday at Banner Elk, N.C. The Trojans fell behind 10-0 before coming back to score the next 17 points. Junior forward Chris Bartley led five players in double figures with 16 points.

Head Coach Bill Clingan is making sure his team is aware that even though Mount Olive finished 12 games ahead of Lees-McRae in the conference standings, any lack of focus could result in a premature end to the season.

"Lees-McRae is a team that plays hard and has had success as of late," said Clingan. "We were fortunate to get a win Saturday and we have to come out Wednesday with a lot more intensity."

The good news for the Trojans is that junior guard and leading scorer Elton Coffield will get to play his first game without protective face gear since suffering a facial injury last month. Coffield, who is averaging 15.1 points per game, broke out of a scoring slump with 26 points last Monday against Pfeiffer.

Coffield is among five Trojans averaging in double figures, including senior guard Victor Young, who celebrated Senior Night last week with a career-high 38 points. Junior forward Elijah Rouse, who ranks fifth in the CVAC in rebounding with 6.8 boards per game, joined the "double-figure club" last week with 10.2 points per contest.

Senior guard Melvin Creddle is averaging 12.6 points per game and ranks in the top 10 in the CVAC in assists and steals. Senior guard Maurice Horton, who will be honored tonight for reaching the career 1,000-point mark last week, is averaging 10.3 points per contest.

Lees-McRae (7-21, 4-16) has a tournament road win to its credit with an 86-82 win at No. 7 seed St. Andrews Monday, marking the second consecutive year the Bobcats won their first-round game as a No. 10 seed. Henry Williams scored 26 points, while Lansen Leach added 25 points.

Mount Olive and Lees-McRae have become familiar opponents over the past two seasons. Not only is tonight's game a rematch of last year's CVAC Tournament quarterfinal -- won by Mount Olive 101-80 -- it's also the fourth meeting of the two teams this season. Along with the two conference meetings, Mount Olive and Lees-McRae faced each other in the first round of the 40th Annual Pickle Classic.

"We know them well and they know us well," said Clingan. "It's just a matter of playing to our abilities."

Kornegay Arena has become home away from home for Lees-McRae, which will play its fourth game this season on Mount Olive's home court.

Mount Olive enters tonight's game on a six-game winning streak and has scored at least 100 points in each of its last three meetings against Lees-McRae at Kornegay Arena. But Clingan says he and team aren't thinking of streaks or looking ahead.

"This is the time of year where you just try to survive and advance," said Clingan. "Right now, all we can do is focus on Wednesday's game."


BACK INTHE TOP 25: Mount Olive returned to the top 25, checking in at No. 25 in this week's NABC Division II Men's Basketball Top 25 Poll, announced Tuesday. Mount Olive, which appeared in each of the first eight polls this season, returns to the top 25 for the first time since January 24. The Trojans have spent four weeks in the top 10 this season and have been ranked as high as No. 6.

Mount Olive (22-5 overall, 16-4 Carolinas-Virginia Athletics Conference) received 24 points in the poll, five points behind No. 24 Central Missouri State.

Mount Olive is one of two CVAC schools ranked in the top 25, joining No. 12 Barton.


MOC Sports Information