01/11/09 — MOC men remain perfect in conference play

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MOC men remain perfect in conference play

By Ryan Hanchett
Published in Sports on January 11, 2009 2:00 AM

MOUNT OLIVE -- Sometimes a basket is worth more than the two points projected on the scoreboard.

Mike Holloman threw down a pair of highlight reel dunks, one in each half, and energized his teammates as Mount Olive claimed a 77-57 over Anderson University in Kornegay Arena on Saturday.

The win was the fifth consecutive Conference Carolinas victory for Mount Olive.

In the opening minutes Anderson raced out to a 26-17 advantage. A combination of hot-shooting and solid defensive rebounding put Mount Olive in the early hole.

"We were expecting Anderson to come out and play a lot of zone," Trojan head coach Joey Higginbotham said. "They fooled us a little by playing a lot of man-to-man and they really shot the ball well in the first half."

The Trojans battled back behind point gaurd Justin Melton, who propelled the team into the lead with just over five minutes to play. The junior delivered nine first-half points and nine rebounds.

Holloman chipped-in with a momentum-shifting slam in the final moments of the half and just missed a desperation 50-foot heave as the clock expired.

Mount Olive held a slim 35-31 advantage at the intermission.

"Coach always talks about defense, and tonight that's what he stressed at halftime," Holloman said. "We knew we had to do a better job on the defensive end of the floor, and we had to rebound."

In the second half the Trojans did both.

Anderson's potent forward combo of Jarret Johnson and Kevis Cornwell went cold from the floor and Mount Olive took over the boards.

A 12-3 run midway through the second half pushed the Trojan advantage to 13 points and sealed the visitors fate. Holloman added an exclamation point with a thunderous tomahawk dunk that brought the crowd to its feet.

"That's what I am known for," Holloman said with a smile. "I haven't been able to do that since my knee has been banged up, but tonight I went for it and it felt good."

Higginbotham was pleased with the emotion that Holloman's play inspired in his teammates.

"Basketball is a momentum game," Higginbotham said. "Mike's dunks just gave us a spark, after each one we came down the floor on the other end and got a stop."

Aside from the showtime slams, Holloman also knocked down a variety of mid-range jump shots on his way to a career-high 21 points. Melton also reached a milestone by pulling down a career-best 10 rebounds to go along with his 12 points. Craig Hayes delivered 18 points and eight boards.

"Craig has been our most consistant guy all year," said Higginbotham. "He scores in double figures almost every game and his touches create open looks for other players."

Anderson was led by Stephen Cobb's 17 points and six rebounds. Johnson added 14 points and Brandon Young finished with 11.

Mount Olive improved to 6-6 overall and 5-0 in Conference Carolinas play. It's the first time since the school moved to the Division-II level that the Trojans have started a conference slate 5-0.

"Somebody asked me today what our overall record was and I really couldn't tell them," Higginbotham said. "We are back to .500 and off to a good start in conference, but we know that we still have room to improve."

The Trojans will look to preserve their perfect league record when they travel to Pfeiffer on Wednesday.