Trojan men fall, but win Conference Carolinas title outright
By Andrew Stevens
Published in Sports on March 2, 2008 2:02 AM
WILSON -- Mount Olive left everything on the floor at Wilson Gymnasium on Saturday afternoon.
Unfortunately, the Trojans also left 13 critical points at the free throw line. The misgiving at the charity stripe, a 16 of 29 effort, proved decisive as archrival Barton upended Mount Olive 84-81 before a national television audience on CSTV and FSN South.
Despite the loss, the No. 17-ranked Trojans captured the Conference Carolinas title outright after Limestone (S.C.) upset regionally-ranked Pfeiffer earlier in the day. Mount Olive drew the top seed for the conference tournament and entertains sixth-seeded Coker (S.C.) College at 7:30 p.m. Monday.
Barton earned the No. 4 seed.
The Bulldogs' Greg Mammel sank the first of two free throws with less than six seconds left on the clock. Trojan point guard Justin Melton missed a 3-pointer at the buzzer, giving Barton its eighth victory over MOC in their last nine meetings.
"He was tilted to the right," Trojans head coach Bill Clingan said of Melton's 3. "He had a good look if he had gone up straight. He was off-balance when he shot it."
Barton led 79-73 before Mount Olive rattled off six unanswered points and Kendrick Easley's layup tied the game at 79-79 with less than to two minutes to go. Brian Leggett's layup put the Bulldogs ahead for good at 81-79.
A charging call wiped out Josh Brown's game-tying layup and Mike Holloman's traveling violation with under 50 seconds left took away yet another game-tying opportunity.
The Trojans (21-6 overall, 16-4 CC) missed nine free throws in the second half. Easley, the team's top free throw shooter, was just two of six.
"We can't win basketball games by shooting 16 out of 29 at the free throw line," Clingan said. "Brandon Streeter had been hitting really well at the free line lately but he was just four of 11. You combine those two and that's six out of 17.
"What would have happened going down the stretch if we had made four or five of those free throws?"
Mount Olive led 43-39 at the half before Barton used a 6-0 run to take a 48-47 advantage.
The Bulldogs (18-9, 14-6) seemed to feed off an energized crowd all afternoon. Eddie Kershaw's steal and layup pushed the Barton lead to 75-68 and further stoked the fire of the Bulldog faithful.
"There was a tremendous amount of energy," Clingan said. "We thought we would build off their energy. Our motors were up. It was a loud crowd and you couldn't hear.
"Our crowd came over and gave us great support today, but it is their home court and that gives them a slight advantage."
Streeter led all scorers with 24 points and pulled down 14 rebounds. He missed a pair of free throws with less than four minutes to play and failed to convert the back end of a conventional three-point play just moments later.
Mount Olive started the game with a 6-0 run before Barton took its first lead at 10-8. The Trojans led by as much as eight on two different occasions. Easley's layup put Mount Olive in front 42-34 with less than two minutes to play in the opening half.
Easley finished with 15 points. Brown pitched in 13 and Holloman had 10. Leggett and Bobby Buffaloe each scored 18 for Barton.
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