11/16/09 — MOC can't hold off ECSU women

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MOC can't hold off ECSU women

By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on November 16, 2009 1:46 PM

MOUNT OLIVE -- A strong beginning.

A disappointing finish.

Mount Olive College raced to an early 14-point, first-half lead in its season-opening, women's basketball contest Sunday afternoon. Visiting Elizabeth City State used a game-clinching 13-4 run to secure a come-from-behind, 72-67 victory at Kornegay Arena.

The Trojans lost their fourth season-opening game in seven attempts since 2003. The Vikings triumphed in the head coaching debut of Alico Dunk, an East Carolina alum, and claimed their second consecutive win on MOC's home court in the series.

"We were patient in the second half and still made a few mistakes, but we were under control and valued the basketball," said Dunk.

JUCO transfer Kenyatta Gill, who committed to Louisville, posted a double-double -- 16 points, 15 rebounds. The backcourt tandem of Joyce Freeman and Kearah Jeffreys pumped in 15 and 12 points, respectively. Forward Shaquella Johnson supplied 11 points off the bench.

Senior forward Helen Moore played just seven minutes in the opening half, but overcame foul trouble to log a double-double -- 21 points, 10 rebounds -- for MOC. Shequanta McGee added 18 points and freshman Andrea Jones contributed 10.

MOC played without all-conference performer Jasmine Whitby, who is expected to undergo athroscopic knee surgery this week. The senior forward's playing status is unknown.

Throughout the non-conference contest, the Trojans had as many as three freshmen on the court against the Vikings. Their inexperience surfaced down the stretch as Mount Olive managed just one field in the final three-plus minutes of play.

Joyce Freeman sandwiched two field goals between Moore's old-fashioned three-point play to keep ECSU within striking distance at 64-63. Jeffreys' field goal off Gill's assist and Johnson's uncontested, open-court layup off another Gill assist put the Vikings ahead to stay at 67-64.

"A team that stays fundamentally sound and poised down the stretch usually wins the game," said Dunk. "Kenyatta is a big-time player and was a little hurt in the second half, but did a great job fighting through it. Johnson did a great job ... is my energy player and does whatever it takes to win."

The Trojans pulled within 69-66 on McGee's layup, but could get no closer. Jeffreys' layup and Gill's layup completed the comeback and gave ECSU its second win over MOC in five meetings since the late 1990s.

"We did some good things on defense and forced them into 29 turnovers, but down the stretch, missing some assignments on defense, putting them on the free throw line and missing some blockouts were key differences in the game," said MOC head coach Wendy Lee.

Mount Olive's defense disrupted ECSU's offense in the opening half and created numerous turnovers in building a 14-point advantage. The Vikings moved in front 30-29 on Johnson's layup and trailed 36-31 at intermission.

The Trojans missed 13 free throws for the game and lost the rebounding battle 48-35.