01/25/08 — Monroe helps make statement

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Monroe helps make statement

By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on January 25, 2008 1:48 PM

MOUNT OLIVE -- Lakeisha Monroe had heard all the hype surrounding the Mount Olive College-Barton series, but knew very little about the Trojans' lack of success against the Bulldogs.

Monroe might have started a new trend Thursday evening.

The Division I transfer from Georgia State University poured in a career-high 32 points as Mount Olive prevailed 99-86 in the Conference Carolinas contest at Kornegay Arena. It was just the Trojans' fourth triumph over the Dogs in 21 meetings since the 1998-99 season.

"My teammates emphasized how big of a game this was for them," said Monroe. "They stressed how much they wanted to beat Barton, and that they're our rivals. We came off a crucial loss against Belmont Abbey and wanted to make a statement in the conference."

Monroe did.

The 5-foot-5 senior guard provided nearly half of Mount Olive's offensive output on 10 of 15 shooting from the floor, including four 3-pointers. Monroe recorded the fifth-highest, single-game scoring effort in program history.

Backcourt mates Tomeka Prichard and Keona Corley combined for 19 points on 5 of 9 shooting. Corley and Monroe combined for 13 of the Trojans' season-high 25 assists on 33 made field goals.

"We had some breakdowns on defense and let them get open for easy baskets ... left their shooters open on the perimeter," said Barton coach Wendee Saintsing, who denied career win No. 296. "They shot lights out tonight ... just didn't miss."

Junior forward Helen Moore added 24 points on 8 of 13 shooting as Mount Olive (9-8 overall, 7-3 CC) won for the fourth time in its last five outings. Overall, 10 Trojans recorded at least two points or more against Barton, which dipped to 9-6 overall and 7-3 in the league.

"We like to see balanced contribution and I think we got that tonight," said Mount Olive coach Wendy Lee. "We're really pleased with everybody stepping up to do different things when we needed it. It helps us feel like we're coming closer together and getting the chemistry we're looking for."

However, Mount Olive started out slow and misfired on its first six possessions. Barton converted 5 of 6 field goals and seized a 10-2 lead just 2 1/2 minutes into the game.

The Bulldogs constantly worked the ball inside, while the Trojans struggled to set screens and capitalize on their height advantage underneath. Mount Olive missed its first four field goals until Brittney Robich buried a 3-pointer off Alisa Jones' assist at the 16:40 mark.

Barton led 22-14 when Monroe sparked an 11-0 run with two free throws. Moore and Corley got into the scoring act and Monroe capped the surge with a 3 off Corley's assist to give the Trojans their first lead at 25-22.

"We just saw how everything was going and everybody was a little complacent, trying to let the game come to them," said Monroe. "But we realized we couldn't do that tonight ... not against this team. We had to come out, pound hard and show them from the get-go that we're here to win and not to lose."

The teams traded on eight occasions after that and the Trojans took over for good on Corley's traditional three-point play late in the first half. Mount Olive led 51-46 at halftime.

The Trojans quickly pushed the advantage to double digits, 63-49, less than four minutes into the second half. Barton climbed within nine on Sara Fleming's field goal off Esty Flores' assist, but trailed by double digits the remainder of the game.

"We didn't execute our offense the way we should have and didn't get the result we wanted," said Flores, who tallied 29 points. "We didn't expect to lose. We came here to win."

Monroe made sure it didn't happen.