01/04/07 — Mount Olive bounces back

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Mount Olive bounces back

By News-Argus Staff
Published in Sports on January 4, 2007 2:30 PM

INSTITUTE, W. Va. -- Kendrick Easley led four players in double figures with 24 points and Justin Melton hit 4-of-4 free throws in the final 11 seconds to lead Mount Olive to an 81-77 victory over Charleston (W. Va.) in the John Dickensheets Classic, hosted by West Virginia State University.

Brandon Streeter recorded his third double-double in four games with 15 points and 10 rebounds, and put the Trojans ahead to stay with a pair of free throws with 1:06 left in the game. The win was the Trojans' sixth in their last seven games.

Easley hit a three-pointer on the Trojans' first possession as Mount Olive (8-3) scored the first seven points of the game and built an early nine-point lead. Charleston (4-4) chipped away at the lead and Austin Weatherington's three-point play with 11:05 left in the first half gave the Golden Eagles their first lead at 20-18. Charleston led by as many as five points, but Streeter's basket with 58 seconds remaining put Mount Olive back on top and the Trojans went into the locker room with a 39-38 lead at intermission.

The second half saw four ties and four lead changes in the first nine minutes before Charleston built the lead back up to five points. Streeter's three-point play with 11:46 remaining sparked an 8-0 Trojan run and Easley's three-pointer 45 seconds later broke a 53-53 tie. Charleston answered with an 11-1 run as Marquis Brooks' three-pointer with 6:21 remaining gave the Golden Eagles their biggest lead at 64-57.

Three-pointers by Melton and Easley on consecutive possessions drew the Trojans within a point, setting up a battle from the free throw line over the final five minutes.

Melton and Easley each hit 2-of-2 free throws to give the Trojans a 67-66 lead with 3:34 remaining, but Brooks answered with a three-pointer to put Charleston back on top. After Elijah Rouse's layup tied the game, Easley blocked Brooks' next three-point attempt and Streeter gathered the rebound. Elton Coffield drew a foul with 2:41 left in the game and hit both free throws to give the Trojans a 71-69 lead.

Coffield's steal led to a tip-in by Streeter as the Trojans built the lead to four with 2:08 remaining. Charleston cut the lead in half on Brooks' fast-break layup, then after a Mount Olive turnover, Wetherington's three-pointer gave the Eagles a 74-73 lead with 1:28 left to play.

Streeter then drew a foul with 1:06 left and hit both free throws for the 12th and final lead change of the game, putting Mount Olive ahead to stay. After a Charleston turnover, Streeter kept a Trojan possession alive with two offensive boards, then hit a pair of free throws to build the lead to 77-74 with 39 seconds left. After Charleston hit 1-of-2 free throws, Melton hit a pair of free throws to give the Trojans a 79-75 lead.

Brooks made it a one-possession game with a layup with six seconds remaining, but Melton was fouled immediately and sank two more free throws with five seconds left for the final margin.

After shooting less than 50 percent (10-for-21) from the line the night before against West Virginia State, Mount Olive was 20-for-24 (83.3 percent) from the line against Charleston.

Melton finished with a career-high 14 points, including 6-for-6 from the free throw line. He also tallied five assists and four steals. Rouse added 13 points to go with four blocked shots and four steals. Streeter was 7-for-9 from the free throw line as he and Melton combined for all of the Trojans' final 10 points of the game.

Easley, who scored 23 points against West Virginia State Tuesday, averaged 23.5 points in the two-game tournament. The freshman has scored in double figures in each of his first 11 collegiate games.

Brooks and Dustin Kinney led Charleston with 20 points apiece, while Wetherington added 19 points. Robert Strickland pulled down a game-high 11 rebounds for the Golden Eagles.

Mount Olive resumes Carolinas-Virginia Athletics Conference play Monday as the Trojans travel to Charlotte to take on Queens. The two teams split the regular season series last year, each team winning on its home court. Tip-off is 7:30 p.m.