02/13/07 — Mount Olive drops heart breaker in OT

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Mount Olive drops heart breaker in OT

By News-Argus Staff
Published in Sports on February 13, 2007 2:33 PM

WILSON -- It's always tough to win on the road in a conference game and a rivalry game, especially when the home team builds an 18-point lead, thanks in part to a 77-foot shot. Despite it all, Mount Olive almost pulled off the win.

Mount Olive overcame an 18-point second half deficit to force overtime, but regionally fifth-ranked Barton held on for an 86-82 win over the Trojans in Carolinas-Virginia Athletics Conference men's basketball Monday. Elton Coffield scored 21 of his 28 points after halftime, but the Trojans saw their seven-game winning streak come to an end.

The loss was Mount Olive's sixth in a row to Barton, with both of this year's games and three of the last four meetings going to overtime.

Anthony Atkinson led Barton with a game-high 31 points, three coming on a 77-foot heave at the end of the first half.

Mount Olive (18-6 overall, 12-5 CVAC) held an early one-point lead, but Barton (18-5, 15-1) used a 14-2 run to build an 11-point lead and eventually stretched the lead to 31-17 with 4:56 left in the first half. Kendrick Easley's three-pointer capped a 9-0 Mount Olive run as the Trojans pulled within five.

Mount Olive was down seven and tried to play for the last shot of the half, but missed with four seconds left. Barton looked like it was going to hold the ball in the backcourt to close out the half, but just before the buzzer, Atkinson let it fly from just inside the right side of the arc and the ball hit all net at the buzzer as Mount Olive fell behind 38-28 at halftime.

Barton kept the lead in double digits and took its biggest lead at 58-40 after Bobby Buffaloe hit a three-pointer with 12:35 left to play.

Coffield answered with a three-pointer and Josh Brown banked a shot with 9:36 remaining to cap a 12-3 run and bring the Trojans within single digits.

The lead was still at nine with just under six minutes left when Coffield hit a pair of free throws and Lydell Walker converted a three-point play to pull the Trojans within 68-64. Mount Olive pulled within a point and after a Barton basket, Coffield hit a three-pointer with 2:19 remaining to tie the game 71-71.

Brown hit a pair of free throws with 1:34 remaining to give Mount Olive its first lead of the second half. Atkinson tied the game 10 seconds later with a pair of free throws, but Easley hit a free throw with 1:07 left to put the Trojans back on top 74-73.

Barton regained the lead on Errol Frails' three-pointer with 50 seconds left, but Walker's dunk with 37 seconds remaining tied the game 76-76. Barton played for the last shot, but was unable to convert and the Trojans were unable to duplicate Atkinson's first-half miracle shot as the two teams went into overtime.

Atkinson hit a pair of free throws to give Barton a two-point lead, but Elijah Rouse tied the game with a putback. Atkinson, who was held to six points in the second half after scoring 17 in the first half, scored the Bulldogs' first eight points of overtime as Barton built an 82-78 lead.

Coffield answered with a three-point play with 2:34 remaining to pull Mount Olive within a point with 2:34 remaining.

But the Trojans were unable to hit a field goal the rest of the way and Brian Leggett sealed the win with a pair of free throws with six seconds left.

Easley finished with 15 points for the Trojans, while Brown added 13 points and Rouse posted a double-double with 11 points and 10 rebounds.

"I have nothing but praise for our guys," said Trojan head coach Bill Clingan. "They kept battling and never gave up. I am so proud of their effort."

Leggett posted a double-double for Barton with 16 points and 10 rebounds, while Frails added 12 points.

Despite the loss, Mount Olive remains in sole possession of third place in the CVAC standings after Limestone lost at Belmont Abbey Monday.

Mount Olive returns to action Saturday as the Trojans play host to Queens in a CVAC contest as part of Mount Olive's Annual Basketball Church Night. Tip-off is 7 p.m. at Kornegay Arena.

"We just need to keep playing with focus and intensity," said Clingan. "I feel like our time is coming."

-- MOC sports information