01/09/09 — Trojans' Melton pumps in career-best 23 points

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Trojans' Melton pumps in career-best 23 points

By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on January 9, 2009 1:46 PM

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Mount Olive's Kason Cheeks looks toward the basket during a game against Tusculum earlier this season at Kornegay Arena.

MOC Sports Information

BELMONT -- Welcome back Justin Melton.

Nearly fully recovered from knee surgery, Melton turned in a career-best 23-point effort as Mount Olive handled Belmont Abbey 83-70 on the Conference Carolinas men's basketball scene Thursday evening.

Melton shot 5 for 7 behind the 3-point arc.

"I'm just so happy for 'Mouse' (Justin Melton)," said MOC head coach Joey Higginbotham. "He still isn't at 100 percent, but he picked a good night to have a breakout game."

Kendrick Easley finished with 21 points, while Mike Holloman added 10 points. Craig Hayes finished with nine points, ending his streak of 10 consecutive double-figure games. Kason Cheeks, who matched a career-high scoring total of 10 points, was 5-of-6 from the field.

"Kason always plays hard, but he played more relaxed tonight and made some huge shots for us at the end of the half," said Higginbotham. "This was a total team effort. It was a great conference win on the road against a very good Belmont Abbey team."

Belmont Abbey pulled within 10 points in the second half, but Aaron Dobson's 3-pointer and Chris Holloway's short hook shot extended the Trojans' advantage to 53-38.

The Crusaders kept chipping away.

Melton's back-to-back 3-pointers put MOC up 71-55 with 7:32 left in regulation. Belmont Abbey answered with a basket and after a Trojans' defensive stop, Holloman's finger-roll layup made it 73-55.

Mount Olive finished 11 of 17 from 3-point range, including a sparkling 8 of 11 showing in the second half.

The Trojans (5-6 overall, 4-0 CC) return home Saturday to face Anderson (S.C.) University. Prior to tip-off, Easley will be honored for reaching 1,000 points during the Pickle Classic in 2008.

Game time is 4 p.m.