03/04/08 — MOC tops Queens 68-54

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MOC tops Queens 68-54

By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on March 4, 2008 1:49 PM

MOUNT OLIVE -- Facing the one-and-done scenario and coming off a bitter loss against archrival Barton just two days ago, Mount Olive couldn't find any kind of rhythm Monday evening.

The third-seeded Trojans played hesitant on offense and their historic season dangled by a thin thread early in the second half. But Helen Moore refused to let that thread snap and send Mount Olive spiraling to a disappointing finish.

The sophomore forward scored 11 points during a crucial second-half stretch and helped the Trojans turn back Queens 68-54 in their quarterfinal-round, Conference Carolinas tournament game.

Mount Olive (18-10 overall) reached the tournament semifinals for the first time since the mid-1990s and gets its rematch with Barton on Thursday. Tip-off is scheduled for 7 p.m. at Wilson Gymnasium.

"We were ready ... anxious," said Moore. "We knew we couldn't lose because it would be over for us and none of us wanted that to happen. We wanted to see Barton again."

The Trojans struggled through a ragged first half. They recorded the same number of field goals and turnovers (7) during the first 15 minutes, and somehow manufactured an 18-10 lead.

Mount Olive extended its advantage to 27-15, only to see sixth-seeded Queens climb within 27-21 at halftime. The Royals continued their run to start the second half and grabbed a 31-30 lead on two Cecilia Tchangoue free throws.

Then Moore took over.

The 5-foot-6 sophomore forward put the Trojans back in front 32-31 off an assist from Brittney Robich. Moore added a free throw and senior guard Keona Corley converted a conventional three-point play to make it 36-31.

Moore tallied three of the next five field goals as Mount Olive moved comfortably ahead 49-37 near the eight-minute mark.

"I just try to do what my coaches and teammates expect of me," said Moore. "I kept thinking to myself that somebody has to step up. I look for my teammates always, but whenever I felt like I was going to hit the shot, I just took it."

Moore led all scorers with 21 points, including 13 on 6 of 8 shooting from the floor in the second half. She also logged eight rebounds, three assists and four steals in 37-plus minutes.

"I think Helen recognized a couple of upperclassmen were struggling a little bit and she's not the type to accept that," said MOC head coach Wendy Lee. "She's going to step up and she gave us a spark that we definitely needed on the offensive end. She hit the glass hard a couple of times and finished some plays."

The Royals (9-19) never threatened.

Mount Olive collected 27 points off 27 Queens turnovers and owned a decisive 30-16 edge in the paint. The Trojans claimed their fifth straight win at home against the Royals and grabbed a 10-9 lead in the series since 1998-99.

Senior guard Lakeisha Monroe complemented Moore with a 15-point effort. Tomeka Prichard added nine points, while Corley and Robich supplied eight and seven points, respectively.