01/14/07 — Mount Olive freshman spearhead CVAC home win

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Mount Olive freshman spearhead CVAC home win

By Rob Craig
Published in Sports on January 14, 2007 2:19 AM

MOUNT OLIVE -- As conference play is heating up so are the freshmen at Mount Olive College.

The Trojan trio of freshmen -- Kendrick Easley, Mike Holloman and Josh Brown -- all started together for the first time and led Mount Olive to a lopsided 93-60 win over Erskine (S.C.) University on Saturday afternoon.

The trio combined to score 27 of Mount Olive's 39 first-half points.

"The freshmen are deserving of the starts," said Mount Olive coach Bill Clingan. "Josh Brown has had some very good practices. He brings to the game a little different dimension."

Brown, who was making his first career start, had played just 40 total minutes and scored nine points on the season before Thursday night's game against Coker. Brown scored 10 points off the bench in 23 minutes against Coker and then played a career-high 32 minutes and scored a career-high 13 points against Erskine.

"The excitement in the locker room before the game was tremendous with Josh Brown starting," said Clingan. "I think Josh stepped up to prove that he was a worthy candidate."

Brown also added a team-high seven rebounds and dished out four assists.

"I go out there looking for teammates," said Brown, who was starting in place of injured point guard Justin Melton. "I always have my confidence. I work hard in practice."

Easley -- who has started all 14 Trojan games -- registered 17 points and five rebounds. Holloman tallied four points with two steals and a block.

"Mike Holloman is an outstanding defensive player who plays bigger than he is and Kendrick Easley, with his true ability, is really outstanding," said Clingan.

After a solid first half, the Trojans were up 39-31. In the second half, the Trojan defense ignited their offense.

"Our defense makes our offense," said Clingan. "The kids came out with the determination that they were going to get it done on defense. If we do that, we're going to be in every game if not win every one."

With their aggressive man-to-man defense contesting every shot and pass, the Trojans were able to get into transition for easy buckets. The Flying Feet was held to one field goal over a six-minute span, allowing Mount Olive to blow the game open with a 17-3 run and grab a commanding 61-40 lead.

Brandon Streeter -- who finished with 11 points -- scored seven points during the run. Elton Coffield added six of his game-high 19 points during that stretch.

"We played together," said Brown. "We had emphasis on our defense. We work on defense before we work on our offense."

Erskine attempted to make a comeback when Matt Odom drilled his second three-pointer to cap an 8-0 run to make the score 61-48 with 8:40 to play. Mount Olive squashed any Flying Feet hopes of a comeback by outscoring Erskine 32-12 the rest of the way.

"The chemistry in this team has really meshed well," said Clingan. "When we play like that, we're really tough to beat."

The Trojans dominated every aspect of the game including the hustle stats of forcing turnovers (17) and outrebounding Erskine 44-36.

"Every team has to have an edge and the edge is wanting it more than your opponent," said Clingan. "By wanting it more than your opponent you've got to go after the loose balls, after the defensive players and after rebounds. When you play defense like that -- and cause turnovers -- then it becomes an offensive game that's fun to play and watch."

The Trojans improved to 10-4 overall and 4-3 in the Carolinas-Virginia Athletics Conference. They play host to in-state rival Belmont Abbey on Monday.