01/09/10 — Easley leads MOC men past Anderson

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Easley leads MOC men past Anderson

By Andrew Stevens
Published in Sports on January 9, 2010 11:12 PM

MOUNT OLIVE -- Anderson had plenty of answers for Mount Olive on Saturday afternoon. Finding a way to slow down Kendrick Easley wasn't one of them.

The pre-season All-American and reigning Conference Carolinas player of the year hit big shot after big shot to lift Mount Olive to a 77-65 win over Anderson at Kornegay Arena. The Norfolk, Va., native scored on four straight trips down the floor in the closing minutes and finished with a game-high 27 points.

Two days ago, Easley torched Pfeiffer for a career- and school-record 44 points.

"I was coming off screens and my teammates were getting me open, and I was getting open looks," said Easley. "I just knocked them down, so that works."

Anderson's Brandon Young drained a 3-pointer and Tony Anderson's jump shot tied the score at 38-38 with fewer than five minutes played in the second half.

Mount Olive reeled off seven unanswered points sparked by a 3-pointer and a layup from Easley on consecutive possessions. Mike Holloman's layup gave the host Trojans a 51-47 advantage with fewer than 11 minutes to play.

Anderson (8-2 overall, 2-2 CC) stayed within striking distance throughout the second half. The lead was just six points at 61-55 with just inside five minutes to play.

Mount Olive sophomore forward Aleks Mitrovic provided a spark off the bench in the second half with hustle plays in the paint and consistent effort on the glass. Mitrovic contributed five points and nine rebounds, and the Trojans held a 54-40 edge overall on the glass.

"Aleks stepped up and played big for us," said Mount Olive head coach Joey Higginbotham. "He played really good defense. He had nine rebounds and I think that's a career high for him. I thought we did an excellent job of limiting them to one opportunity."

Mount Olive struggled to get stops defensively early in the first half as Anderson jumped out to a 13-6 advantage with fewer than seven minutes gone.

Mount Olive answered with a 16-6 run and took a 22-19 lead on Holloman's 3-point play. Lamonte' Theus' 3-pointer and Easley's jumper extended Mount Olive's lead to 31-23, and Higginbotham's club led 33-26 at the break.

"This was a tight game and we had to buckle down," said Easley. "We had to get ball movement, crash the offensive boards and just work out (our) game plan."

Holloman scored 16 points and Theus added 10.

Mount Olive (8-4) improved to 5-0 in conference play and visits Coker (S.C.) on Wednesday.

"We're breaking our season up into four seasons," said Higginbotham. "We had three home games and we took care of home court. In the next five games we've got to get better. It's one game at a time and team at a time.

"That's always been our mentality."