01/26/07 — Trojan men outside looking in at East Region poll

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Trojan men outside looking in at East Region poll

By MOC Sports Information
Published in Sports on January 26, 2007 2:04 PM

Finding itself on the outside looking in on this year's first NCAA II East Region rankings, Mount Olive is almost in a must-win situation Saturday on the road. And the Trojans will be facing perhaps the hottest team in the conference.

After a week off, Mount Olive returns to action Saturday as the Trojans travel to Gaffney, S.C., to take on regionally eighth-ranked Limestone in Carolinas-Virginia Athletics Conference men's basketball. Tip-off is 7:30 p.m.

A live Audio Webcast is available for the game on the Mount Olive College athletics website. Go to www.moc.edu and click Athletics.

Mount Olive (12-5 overall, 6-4 CVAC) is playing for the first time since Saturday's 97-57 win at Anderson. The Trojans fell behind by eight points early on, but outscored Anderson 45-14 over the final 16 minutes of the first half.

The Trojans have started three freshmen --all in the backcourt -- in each of their last four games. Kendrick Easley, one of two Trojans to start every game this season, is among four Trojans averaging in double figures with 14.8 points per game. Mike Holloman, who scored 10 points against Anderson, has started each of the last 13 games.

Josh Brown moved into the starting lineup after starting point guard Justin Melton missed three games with an ankle sprain. Brown has averaged 11 points in his four starts. Melton has seen action in Mount Olive's last two games.

Senior forward Elijah Rouse has also started every game this season and is tied with Easley for third on the team in points per game. Rouse, who came within one board of a school record with 22 rebounds against Barton eight days ago, is nationally ranked in field goal percentage, rebounds, blocked shots and steals.

If there was a ranking for most points off the bench, Mount Olive would likely be among the nation's leaders as neither of the Trojans' top two scorers are in the starting lineup. Mount Olive has won 10 of 13 games since bringing senior Elton Coffield and junior Brandon Streeter off the bench.

Coffield ranks fifth in the CVAC in scoring with an average of 17.5 points per game, including 18.4 points per game off the bench. Streeter is averaging 16.6 points per game off the bench and 15.4 overall this season.

Limestone (13-4, 8-2) defeated Pfeiffer 80-78 Thursday on a putback just before the buzzer. The Saints have won eight in a row and 10 of their last 11, including a win over Barton last Saturday.

In the two teams' first meeting, Mount Olive defeated Limestone 78-63 at Kornegay Arena. Streeter (22 points) and Coffield (19 points) combined for 41 points as the Trojans broke away from a three-point halftime lead.

But Limestone was without then-injured starting guard Andre Coleman against Mount Olive. Coleman scored 23 points against Barton and 29 against Pfeiffer.

Mount Olive is unranked in the NCAA II East Region poll for the first time in four years, ending a streak of 21 consecutive appearances in the top 10 poll. Along with the three conference champions in the region, the five highest ranked teams in the region earn bids to the NCAA II East Regional in March. The Trojans have reached the NCAA Tournament in each of the last three years, including a trip to the Elite Eight in 2005.

-- Courtesy MOC Sports Information