Trojans guard has career outing
By Ryan Hanchett
Published in Sports on January 8, 2010 1:46 PM
MOUNT OLIVE -- Kendrick Easley etched his name in the record book.
And the Trojans etched a 'W' in the win column.
Easley set a single-game school record with 44 points and Mount Olive bested in-state Conference Carolinas rival Pfeiffer 114-105 at Kornegay Arena on Thursday evening.
A preseason All-American, Easley clipped the previous school mark of 41 set by MOC Hall of Famer and current Southern Wayne head coach Russell Stephens. Easley's previous career best was 39, which came against the Falcons last season.
Stephens viewed Easley's record-setting effort from the stands.
"It's great to get a record like this because I know how many great players have played here at Mount Olive," said Easley. "I was just out there playing my game and I didn't even know it was a record until they announced it after the game."
Easley connected on eight 3-pointers, one shy of tying a school record.
Always willing to play a high-octane style of offense, the Falcons pace played right into the hands of the Trojans. Easley and fellow starter Mike Holloman each came out fresh after missing the last two games with injuries.
The duo combined for 37 points in the opening half as the Trojans led 56-42 at halftime.
"Having those two guys back in the lineup tonight was huge for us," said Mount Olive head coach Joey Higginbotham. "Obviously, Kendrick had a big night and having two guys that know what to expect from the Pfeiffer style of play was an advantage."
In the second half the Trojans increased their lead to 19 points as point guard Derek Staton created open looks for Easley with his dribble penetration.
With 12 minutes to play the Falcons (5-3 overall, 1-1 CC) turned up the defensive pressure and cut the Trojans' lead to just five points. Again it was Easley who answered the challenge by burying back-to-back 3-pointers and pushed the Mount Olive lead to 91-80.
The final minutes turned into a foul-fest and the Trojans sealed the game with some excellent clutch shooting. On the night, Mount Olive made 34 of 35 attempts from the charity stripe and set a program record for free throw percentage (.971).
"That is something that we work on every single day," said Higginbotham. "I don't know if we have ever shot that well at the line, but I am proud of our guys' focus down the stretch.."
Holloman finished with 20 points, while Staton provided a double-double -- 19 points and 10 assists. Jeff Pettiway paced the Falcons with 35 points. Chris Woods added 24 points and nine rebounds.
Mount Olive (7-4, 4-0) entertains Anderson (S.C.) University on Saturday. Tip-off is 4 p.m.
"Anderson is another quality team and they are hot right now with a few wins in a row," said Higginbotham. "We will have to come out and play our best game of the season to protect our home court."
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