01/22/08 — Trojans escape: Streeter's dunk keys late surge

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Trojans escape: Streeter's dunk keys late surge

By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on January 22, 2008 1:49 PM

MOUNT OLIVE -- Belmont Abbey nearly taught Mount Olive College a lesson about complacency on Monday afternoon.

The Crusaders trailed by 18 at intermission, but used a mixture of zone and man-to-man defenses that nearly vexed the Trojans in the second half. The visitors methodically whittled away at the deficit and pulled within 82-79 on Richard Barbee's steal and layup.

"When they cut the lead, some teams would have folded," said Mount Olive men's basketball coach Bill Clingan. "We stuck in there and did execute at that point with some pretty good defense."

Brandon Streeter's two free throws and two-handed dunk off Montel Jones' assist gave the Trojans breathing room and led to a 93-85 victory at Kornegay Arena. Mount Olive (12-3 overall) improved to 8-1 in Conference Carolinas play heading into Thursday's home contest with defending national champion Barton.

Belmont Abbey (8-8) dipped to 7-3 in the league.

Streeter finished with a double-double -- 22 points and 13 rebounds. Teammate Kendrick Easley pumped in 23 points and Josh Brown supplied 19 off the bench.

"I think we got complacent ... came out satisfied with the first half," said Streeter. "Coach told us to put the first half in the past and I don't think everybody took into consideration what he was saying. They gave us a great ball game.

"It always takes two halves to win a ball game."

The Crusaders' overactive defense disrupted the Trojans' offensive flow in the second half. Mount Olive stopped cutting and screening as the visitors denied passing lanes inside to Streeter.

The result led to either ill-advised shots or turnovers.

"We started doing some things uncharacteristic of us with passes and mental errors that shows we weren't focused in the second half," said Clingan. "The flow of our offense started slowing down because we weren't cutting, screening, doing the things we normally do and the result showed."

Belmont Abbey outscored Mount Olive 26-15 in the first eight minutes of the second half. Barbee and junior guard Jonathan Jackson combined for 24 points during that stretch.

Easley's 3 off Brown's assist pushed the lead back to 70-60. The Trojans kept the double-digit advantage until Jackson buried a 3, his fourth of the game, to make it 82-73 with seven minutes left in regulation.

The Crusaders scored the next three baskets, including Barbee's steal and layup, to climb within 82-79. Barbee led all scorers with 33 points on 13 of 17 shooting, while Jackson added 20.

"They're very explosive with some good one-on-one players," said Clingan.

Streeter's free throw and hustle effort on a loose ball led to another free throw within a 60-second span. His two-handed slam after Jones grabbed an offensive rebound pushed the Trojans back in front 86-79.

Streeter, despite facing a triple team, converted an offensive putback to make it 88-79. The Crusaders never threatened again as Mount Olive remained unbeaten in six home games this season.

"We stayed together through adversity," said Streeter. "We didn't get down on each other and picked each other up. It took a total team effort."