02/12/08 — Cruising along: No. 18-ranked Trojans ground Hawks

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Cruising along: No. 18-ranked Trojans ground Hawks

By Ryan Hanchett
Published in Sports on February 12, 2008 2:58 PM

MOUNT OLIVE -- With winter-like temperatures gripping the area Monday evening, the Chowan Hawks found the air inside Kornegay Arena just as frigid as when they got off the bus.

Thanks to some stingy interior defense, Mount Olive held the Hawks to just nine points in the first 13 minutes of the opening half, en route to a 77-54 victory.

Mount Olive improved to 18-4 on the year, while Chowan dipped to 11-13.

Brandon Streeter, the Trojans' second-leading scorer, missed the game due to disciplinary reasons. Veteran MOC head coach Bill Clingan wondered how the team would react to Streeter's absence.

The defense from the unfamiliar starting unit was sterling. However, the offense left a lot to be desired in the early minutes.

"I think it took time for them to adjust to the new combination," Clingan said. "They played phenomenal defense, picked up ten steals, and once they realized it was time to go they certainly did."

After surrendering back-to-back baskets with 5:35 to play in the opening half, Clingan called a timeout to restructure his offense. The Trojans, who led 22-14, ended the half with a 17-0 run.

Mount Olive caught fire from beyond the arc during the offensive outburst, led by Josh Brown who buried two 3-pointers and also assisted on a Justin Melton 3.

Clingan praised Brown's season-high, 21-point output.

"Josh has been there for us all year. He can play good defense, and is finding out that he is capable of playing well at both ends of the floor," Clingan said.

The Trojans controlled the tempo, boards and won loose-ball battles in the opening half.

"We fronted them in the post early and didn't allow them to score from over the top," said Clingan. "We used our weak-side defense to help in the post, and it seemed to be effective throughout the game."

Much as the first half ended, the second half began with Mount Olive on the offensive attack. Despite giving up a pair of easy baskets to open the half, the Trojans kept their 25-point lead until the 14-minute mark.

The Hawks used a short run to pull within 15 points over the next six minutes, but could never close the gap.

Mike Holloman provided the game-clinching basket, once again from 3-point range, extending the Trojans' lead back to 18 points. The sophomore guard added a crowd-pleasing dunk in the final half minute as Mount Olive claimed its 12th home win of the season against no defeats.

The Trojans, who play four of their final five games on the road, travel to Coker (S.C.) College on Thursday. Tip-off is scheduled for 7:30 p.m.