01/12/07 — Trojans, minus Clingan and top point guard, dismantle Coker

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Trojans, minus Clingan and top point guard, dismantle Coker

By MOC Sports Information
Published in Sports on January 12, 2007 2:19 PM

HARTSVILLE, S.C. -- As if Mount Olive associate head men's basketball coach and expectant father Joey Higginbotham didn't have enough on his mind Thursday, he had to serve as head coach and guide a lineup that was without its starting point guard. The result was the Trojans' largest margin of victory of the season.

Elijah Rouse led five players in double figures with 22 points and Brandon Streeter posted his fourth double-double of the season with 19 points and 12 rebounds as Mount Olive defeated Coker 95-68 in Carolinas-Virginia Athletics Conference men's basketball Thursday. The win was the first of the year on the road for the Trojans in conference play.

The Trojans were without head coach Bill Clingan, who was at home with a virus. Mount Olive was also without starting point guard Justin Melton, who suffered an ankle injury in practice Wednesday. The Trojans hope to have both Clingan and Melton available Saturday.

Mount Olive (9-4 overall, 3-3 CVAC) broke an early 2-2 tie on Kendrick Easley's three-pointer and led the rest of the way. Streeter's basket with 8:22 remaining gave the Trojans an 11-point advantage and the lead never fell below double digits the remainder of the game.

Mount Olive led by as many as 17 points in the first half after Josh Brown's three-pointer in the final two minutes and the Trojans went into the locker room with a 49-36 lead. Streeter and Elton Coffield combined for 24 points off the bench in the first half.

Easley began the game at the point for Mount Olive, but the Trojans had to play the point guard position "by committee" when Easley got into foul trouble. Brown and Mike Holloman -- both freshmen, as is Easley -- ran the point much of the game.

"With Justin not able to play and Kendrick in foul trouble, we were basically without two starting point guards tonight," said Higginbotham. "Josh and Mike really stepped up for us."

Coker (3-9, 0-5) never got any closer than 13 points in the second half and Mount Olive built the lead to as many as 28 points.

Coffield scored 18 points for the Trojans, while Holloman added 13 points and Brown finished with a career-high 10 points. Rouse also pulled down eight rebounds.

Lukas Varga led Coker with 18 points, including 10-for-14 from the free throw line. Jason Fullwood scored 13 of his 16 points in the first half.

Mount Olive shot 54.0 percent (34-for-60) from the field and 85.0 percent (17-for-20) from the free throw line. The Trojans outrebounded Coker 37-26 and held the Cobras to 41.7 percent shooting (20-for-48).

"Our guys really worked hard on defense tonight," said Higginbotham. "We've been struggling on defense, but we played with a lot of intensity tonight."

After seven consecutive games away from home, Mount Olive plays its first game at Kornegay Arena in more than a month Saturday as the Trojans play host to Erskine. Tip-off is 4 p.m.

Meanwhile, Higginbotham and his wife, Trojan head softball coach Jaime Kylis-Higginbotham, anxiously await the birth of their first child. The due date was this week.

"It's any day, any minute, any second now," said Higginbotham. "Hopefully, I'll be getting that call soon from Jaime telling me it's time."

-- Courtesy Mount Olive Sports Information