01/30/07 — Mount Olive outscores Pfeiffer

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Mount Olive outscores Pfeiffer

By Steve Roush
Published in Sports on January 30, 2007 2:15 PM

MOUNT OLIVE -- Meet the challenge.

Don't relax for a second.

Play consistent in transition.

Crash the boards.

It's a formula veteran Mount Olive men's basketball coach Bill Clingan uses just about every game. But those points of emphasis became more prevalent against in-state rival Pfeiffer University, which prefers an up-tempo style of play.

"The game is never over until it's over when we play Pfeiffer," said Clingan. "They will battle you every possession."

The Trojans answered.

Senior Elijah Rouse, who hails from Kinston, emerged the eighth 1,000-point scorer in school history in Mount Olive's 110-104 victory Monday evening at Kornegay Arena. The Kinston native posted a double-double, 14 points and 12 rebounds, as the Trojans improved to 14-5 overall and 8-4 in Carolinas-Virginia Athletics Conference play.

Rouse joined the elite group 10 minutes into the contest.

"Everybody made a big deal about it before the game even started," said Rouse, who has 1,013 points in his career. "I was trying to get the butterflies out of my stomach and just play ball. It felt good after I got it and at that point, I started playing ball."

So did his teammates.

Mount Olive trailed 29-20 when Rouse connected on his six-footer in the lane, which started a 10-2 run. Pfeiffer's early advantage dwindled to 31-30 with eight minutes left before halftime.

"We tried to take our time and we didn't want to do anything stupid," said Rouse. "We played 'grandma style' -- you don't want to hit hard, but (hit) good enough so they get the point. We didn't hit hard enough.

"We finally realized we needed to play some ball."

The Trojans did.

Mount Olive worked an effective inside-outside game with Brandon Streeter and Kendrick Easley, and stayed within striking distance. Montel Jones' 3-pointer off Mike Holloman's assist gave the Trojans their first lead -- 39-38 -- with 5:45 left before intermission.

Clingan's team slowly padded the lead and led 59-52 at the break.

"It seems Mount Olive won the game in the last eight minutes of the first half," said Pfeiffer coach Dave Davis. "Did they miss in that stretch? Every shot seemed to go in and I didn't think we were playing that bad on defense."

The Trojans built a 14-point lead twice in the second half, but couldn't pull away.

Pfeiffer climbed within 102-97 with less than three minutes to go and misfired on three consecutive possessions. Three turnovers led to two Mount Olive baskets.

"Those were critical turnovers," said Davis. "We worked so hard to get back into the game and we shot ourselves in the foot. We made so many positive plays, I thought, defensively which we hadn't done all night.

"Our kids, there is no quit in them and they busted it for 40 minutes."

Coffield's short jumper off Justin Melton's assist and Mike Holloman's open-court layup pushed the advantage to 106-97. Pfeiffer tallied four field goals in the last 58 seconds, but the Trojans got free throws from Rouse, Holloman, Coffield and Josh Brown to keep the Falcons grounded.

Easley emerged Mount Olive's top scorer with 24 points, including a 7 of 7 showing at the free throw line. Streeter provided a double-double -- 22 points, 11 rebounds -- off the bench. Brown and Coffield delivered 12- and 11-point outings, respectively, off the bench. Overall, the Trojans' reserves outscored the Falcons 56-28.

"Josh played awfully well off the bench and Montel was an unsung hero with nine rebounds," said Clingan. "He has helped us the last two games, and really stepped in with a great attitude ... has done wonders.

"Our freshmen are playing well."

Mount Olive improved to 7-1 at home and 5-4 against in-state opposition overall this season. The Trojans entertain Coker (S.C.) College at 7:30 p.m. Thursday.