02/01/09 — MOC men survive Limestone rally

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MOC men survive Limestone rally

By Ryan Hanchett
Published in Sports on February 1, 2009 2:00 AM

MOUNT OLIVE -- Mount Olive strengthened its position in the Conference Carolinas standings with a 86-76 victory over rival Limestone at Kornegay Arena on Saturday.

The game included stellar offensive runs by both teams, but it was the Trojan attack that dominated the first 12 minutes.

Kendrick Easley made shots from a variety of angles and scored 19 points during the early outburst. Mount Olive opened up a 41-15 lead during that stretch.

"My teammates were finding me, and I was able to use some screens," Easley said. "I had one of those stretches where my shot felt really good."

The Trojans' offensive prowess surprised Higginbotham.

"Early on we were just shooting lights out," he said. "Kendrick hit four or five three's, Melton hit two, and Foskey made one. I looked up and saw that we were on pace for about 110 points... I didn't figure we could keep that up."

The Saints regrouped during a timeout and began a massive comeback.

A 20-0 run that spanned five minutes and 48 seconds pulled the visitors back into contention.

"I think we lost our focus on the defensive end, and we stopped being aggressive because we had the lead," Easley said. "We had to get together and remind ourselves to attack the basket and focus on getting stops."

Tanner Carnes halted the Saints run in the final minute of the half with a jump shot and was immediately followed by a layup by Craig Hayes.

The teams played a back-and-forth second half that included more outstanding shooting from three-point range. Mount Olive finished 14-29 from long distance.

The Trojans put the game away with a 8-1 run that began with eight minutes to play.

"This wasn't our best 40-minute effort," Higginbotham said. "But out guys grinded through a tough game and got a win."

Easley led the Trojans' offense with 31 points. Mike Holloman added a double-double with 10 points and 10 rebounds. Craig Hayes finished with 16 points.

"Kendrick is a great scorer, and when he is on he is really tough for teams to stop," Higginbotham said. "We have challenged him to do more in other areas of the game, but offensively he is a great player."

Limestone (6-13 overall, 4-8 CC) was paced by Anthony Middleton's 26-point night. Michael Barrett added 18 points and Stewart Clark finished with 17 points.

Mount Olive (12-5, 11-1) will enjoy a seven day break before traveling to Anderson.

"Every game in this league is going to be a battle and the next three are no exception," Higginbotham said. "Anderson on the road is tough, Pfeiffer in our gym and a trip to Coker won't be easy.

"Our goal is to win the conference and we know we need to focus every night to get that done."