Mount Olive loses overtime heartbreaker
By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on March 11, 2007 10:12 AM
WILSON -- Settle down and set up the offense.
Millersville (Pa.) University junior Charlie Parker silently repeated the mantra to himself during Mount Olive's late second-half run that carried over into the early stages of overtime.
Parker drained a short jumper and hit teammate Greg Testa for an open 3-pointer. The two baskets highlighted a 9-0 run as the Marauders turned back the Trojans 89-85 in their opening-round, NCAA Division II East Regional game Saturday afternoon.
Third-seeded Millersville claimed its first postseason win since 2003 and tied a school record for single-season victories (27). The Marauders oppose either West Liberty State or California (Pa.) University in today's semifinal round at Barton College.
Mount Olive concluded the year 23-8.
"It was definitely a good game and the fans got their money's worth, I guarantee you," said MOC head coach Bill Clingan. "I told the guys after the game that nothing good ever comes out of a loss except the fact you know you gave it everything you had.
"We've been down a few times and these kids just don't quit."
The Trojans were 0-3 in games this season when they've trailed at halftime. They nearly reversed the trend thanks to two strong rallies, including a 4-minute surge in the second half that forced overtime.
Reggie Bates' 3-pointer gave the Marauders a 74-62 lead with 4 minutes remaining in regulation. The Trojans answered with a 16-4 run that ended on Justin Melton's game-tying layup with five seconds left on the clock.
"They overplayed him (defensively) and he read it well," said Clingan of Melton. "We felt like he could go one-on-one, penetrate against screens which either open up as baskets or open up a kickout."
Kendrick Easley opened the overtime with a bucket off Chris Bartley's assist. Lydell Walker picked the Marauders for a steal near midcourt and passed to an open Easley. Easley worked the ball around the perimeter and found an open Bartley, who connected on a soft turnaround hook shot.
The Trojans led 84-80.
After Parker and Testa's back-to-back field goals, the Marauders added four more points off Mount Olive turnovers. Melton buried a 3-pointer and pulled the Trojans within 87-85 with 50.7 seconds to go.
Millersville (27-4 overall) pulled down two key offensive rebounds in the final 27 seconds and sealed the game at the free throw line.
"Even though they made that run, we were still confident that we could get this win," said Parker, who finished with 14 points. "I think we were a little antsy because they made a run to get it to overtime and they continued that energy for the first minute or so of overtime.
"Then we settled down, set up our offense and got a couple of quick baskets to get us back into the lead. From there on, we kept playing tough and pulled it out."
The Marauders denied the passing lanes, picked the Trojans for a couple of steals and scored seven of the game's first nine points. Mount Olive further compounded its troubles by missing 9 of its first 10 shots.
Parker gave Millersville its biggest lead, 19-5, with 11 minutes left in the opening half.
Easley, who emerged Mount Olive's top scorer with 21 points, got warmed up from the perimeter. The freshman guard pumped in nine consecutive points and pulled the Trojans within 24-21.
"I've been shooting the ball poor lately, so when I hit that three, that gave me some more confidence and it carried me throughout the game," said Easley.
Millersville led 34-27 at halftime and had to "hang on for dear life," according to Marauders head coach Fred Thompson.
Mount Olive started the second half with an 18-8 run. Mike Holloman's two free throws, and subsequent steal and layup gave the Trojans a 45-42 advantage.
"As the game progressed, we felt Millersville had a hard time with our defense, especially in a halfcourt situation," said Clingan. "We wanted to continue that in the second half, feeling like than was an edge for us.
"In the second half, we came out with a lot more aggression, got in the passing lanes and pressured the ball better."
Easley's next-to-last field goal in regulation forged a 51-51 tie.
Millersville led 53-52 when Testa turned in a momentum-changing play. Daniel Joyner shot an airball from behind the 3-point arc and Testa charged after the ball before it bounced over the end line.
Testa threw the ball back in and attempted to bounce it off a Mount Olive defender, but it went through his legs. Joyner picked up the loose ball, charged the basket and drew a foul.
Joyner converted both free throws and Testa scored the two baskets as Millersville extended its lead to 60-52.
"I didn't want this to be it," said Testa, one of four Marauder seniors. "I wanted to do everything I could to help our team advance to the next round."
Millersville built its second double-digit lead until Bartley's 3-pointer, off Elijah Rouse's assist, sparked the Trojans' rally to end regulation. Rouse (11 points) fouled out in the final minute and watched overtime from the bench.
Mount Olive fell to 1-3 in overtime games this season and suffered its first loss against a Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference foe in four playoff meetings since 2005. The Trojans are 4-4 all-time in postseason play and are the only team in the Carolinas-Virginia Athletics Conference's 10-year history to make four straight playoff appearances.
MOUNT OLIVE (23-8)
Elijah Rouse 4 0 3-3 11, Lydell Walker 1 0 1-2 3, Kendrick Easley 6 2 3-4 21, Mike Holloman 5 0 3-4 13, Justin Melton 5 1 3-4 16, Brandon Streeter 1 0 3-7 5, Montel Jones 0 0 0-0 0, Elton Coffield 3 0 2-2 8, Josh Brown 0 0 0-0 0, Chris Bartley 1 2 0-0 8. TOTALS -- 26 5 18-26 85.
Charlie Parker 6 0 2-6 14, Reggie Bates 5 3 1-4 20, RayQuan Miles 3 0 1-3 7, Bernard Brown 3 0 5-7 11, Greg Testa 5 3 4-6 23, Marcus Johnson 1 0 0-0 2, Joel Perez 0 2 0-0 6, Jeremy Gwyn 0 0 0-0 0, Makal Stibbins 2 0 0-0 4, Daniel Joyner 0 0 2-2 2. TOTALS -- 25 8 15-28 89.
Halftime -- Millersville 34-27. End of regulation -- 78-78. 3-point goals -- MOC 5-20, Millersville 8-20. Rebounds -- MOC 37 (Rouse 7), Millersville 43 (Testa 9). Assists -- MOC 16 (Easley 5), Millersville 14 (Parker, Testa 4). Turnovers -- MOC 16, Millersville 16. Blocked shots -- MOC 3 (Walker 2), Millersville 5 (Brown 2). Steals -- MOC 11, Millersville 6 (Parker 4). Fouled out -- Rouse.
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