Mount Olive falls to Barton in OT
By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on January 19, 2007 2:36 PM
MOUNT OLIVE -- Another classic battle in a storied rivalry between archrivals ended in frustrating fashion -- again -- for Mount Olive College on Thursday evening.
Barton College erased a 12-point halftime deficit and claimed an 80-73 overtime victory before a vocal and standing-room-only crowd at Kornegay Arena. The Bulldogs (10-4 overall) collected their fifth consecutive win in the series which started in the old NAIA Carolinas Intercollegiate Athletics Conference.
Mount Olive (11-5) endured its first home defeat in seven outings this season and just its third overall in 25 contests since the remaining of the arena. Barton is responsible for all three losses.
"A typical battle ... what more can you ask?" said MOC head coach Bill Clingan. "For the crowd (that is)."
The two teams combined for 211 possessions, six lead changes and seven ties in the 85-minute affair. Three Trojan possessions proved crucial and disheartening as the second half wound down.
Brandon Streeter failed to convert the go-ahead free throw in the final 23 seconds. Bulldog point guard Anthony Atkinson missed a jumper and the Trojans rebounded. They missed a layup and follow-up dunk at the buzzer that drew groans from the MOC student section.
During that same sequence, Barton's Errol Frails grabbed the jersey of a Mount Olive player, but none of the referees saw the play. Clingan and 11th-year Bulldog head coach Ron Lievense expected to hear a whistle on the play.
"There was an intentional foul at halfcourt and the referees either didn't see it, or didn't call it ... take your pick," said Clingan. "I just watched it on tape. We should have at least been on the free throw line. How referees can miss that, I'll never know, but they did.
"We missed our chance."
Barton and 6-foot-5 senior forward Mark Friscone never gave Mount Olive a chance in the extra five-minute session. Friscone scored the first seven points, all on drives to the basket, and the Dogs controlled the tempo.
Friscone finished with 16 points, including an offensive putback that gave Barton a 66-65 lead before Streeter's game-tying free throw.
"Once overtime started, I knew we needed to win and I refused to lose this game," said Friscone. "It's such a big rival and I tried to do whatever I could to get us a victory."
Mount Olive pulled within two points on three occasions. Streeter's jumper off Elijah Rouse's assist closed the gap to 75-73 with 1:08 to play. However, the Trojans misfired on their final six possessions.
The Bulldogs sealed the comeback with solid free throw shooting and remained unbeaten in eight Carolinas-Virginia Athletic Conference contests this season. They have won 26 of their last 28 regular-season CVAC games.
Clingan described the loss as a "tale of two halves."
The Trojans controlled the tempo, played patient in their halfcourt set and denied Atkinson and fellow guard Bobby Buffaloe from creating offensive scoring opportunities. Clingan's squad pulled down 14 offensive rebounds that led to 11 second-chance points.
All those factors produced a 40-28 halftime lead and boiled Lievense's blood pressure in the locker room.
"They owned us on the board, they owned us on second effort and they owned us in competitive situations. Their heart was huger than ours was," said Lievense. "I thought they gave us a knockout punch the first half. We had to challenge the heart of our players, challenge their commitment level and thank God these guys came out in the second half and played with more intensity."
Within a five-minute span, the Trojans' 12-point cushion dwindled to 46-42. Atkinson and Buffaloe started the Bulldogs' offense near midcourt to create gaps in Mount Olive's 2-3 zone defense. Held to Atkinson's three assists in the opening half, the duo combined for six dishes, 25 points and 12 for 12 shooting at the free throw line.
Clingan said Atkinson and Buffaloe exploited his team's inexperience, and admitted they dictated the tempo as the game progressed. Friscone and Brian Leggett, who complimented the Trojans on their physical play, each benefited from Atkinson's and Buffaloe's assists.
"That's one of the things we went over in our walk-through in breaking the team down. When they get into that 2-3 zone, there are so many gaps," said Leggett, who finished with a double-double -- 10 points, 16 rebounds. "Bobby and Anthony do a great job of getting back-door screens and shots on the perimeter. If they get the ball on the perimeter and we flash (to the basket), then we're going to break that defense down easy."
Leggett said Lievense urged his team to play the game in five-minute intervals in the second half. And he wanted the Bulldogs within striking distance in the final segment of regulation.
Trojan senior Elijah Rouse, who posted 17 points and a career-high 22 rebounds, collected seven of his team's final 10 points in regulation. Mount Olive relinquished one-point leads on two occasions and Rouse's field goal and free throw gave MOC its last lead at 65-64.
That set the stage for yet another thrilling installment of the rivalry.
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