02/14/09 — MOC men dominate Lees-McRae

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MOC men dominate Lees-McRae

By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on February 14, 2009 11:21 PM

MOUNT OLIVE -- This was too easy.

But the Mount Olive College men's basketball team didn't carry that mentality into its Conference Carolinas battle with last-place Lees-McRae College on Saturday afternoon.

"We knew they were on the lower side of the conference, so coach said to come out like we were down 10 (points) ... play hard the first five minutes," said Trojans guard Aaron Dobson. "We had to go 100 percent, have intensity on defense and that will carry over."

Carry over, indeed.

The Trojans converted 10 of their first 14 offensive possessions and built a 12-point lead less than eight minutes into the opening half. That efficiency provided the springboard to a 90-64 rout of the Bobcats at Kornegay Arena.

Kendrick Easley led three MOC players in double figures with 25 points. Mike Holloman came within one rebound of a double-double with 21 points and nine boards. The duo combined for 11 points, including nine from 3-point range in the second half.

Dobson contributed 11 points, including nine from 3-point range in the second half.

"Aaron is stepping up ... his confidence is really good," said MOC head coach Joey Higginbotham. "He's had two back-to-back great games. He's been averaging about seven rebounds a game the last couple of games and that's a big help, too."

Mount Olive (16-7 overall, 15-1) extended its win streak to nine consecutive games. The Trojans triumphed for the fifth straight time over the Bobcats and 24th overall in 27 meetings since the late 1990s.

Lees-McRae is 0-15 at MOC during that stretch.

"These are the games that scare you," said Higginbotham. "Coming in, they've got nothing to lose. I thought our guys did a good job of defending, rebounding the ball and getting out on the break ... getting in the open court to make some things happen.

"When we bring our energy, that's the key."

The Trojans, ranked No. 9 in the Southeast Region, owned a decisive 34-18 edge on the defensive glass. Higginbotham's team handed out 25 assists on 35 field goals and averaged 1.22 points per possession.

Ten of 12 players who saw action contributed two or more points toward the lopsided outcome. Only senior guard Justin Melton, who rolled his ankle in practice last week, didn't step onto the court.

"We wanted to have a good amount of assists," said Higginbotham. "When we share the ball, we usually shoot the ball well and usually get a good outcome. We've got multiple (offensive) threats."

Mount Olive continues a three-game homestand Monday against Belmont Abbey. Tip-off is scheduled for 7:30 p.m.