01/22/10 — Hayes erupts offensively, MOC takes charge early

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Hayes erupts offensively, MOC takes charge early

By Ryan Hanchett
Published in Sports on January 22, 2010 1:46 PM

MOUNT OLIVE -- Close outcomes have been synonymous during the Barton-Mount Olive College men's basketball rivalry during the past two decades.

Not Thursday night.

The Trojans broke the game open early and never looked back in an 88-72 rout of the Bulldogs inside Kornegay Arena. With the win, Mount Olive (12-4 overall, 9-0 CC) captured sole possession of first place in the Conference Carolinas standings.

"To come out and get a win over a rival like Barton is a big lift for this team," said Trojans head coach Joey Higginbotham. "I thought we did a great job of using our emotions to focus the team on executing."

The Bulldogs (11-4, 7-1) could not buy a basket in the opening half thanks to some stingy defense by the Trojans. After 10 minutes of action, Mount Olive owned a 25-9 lead.

Craig Hayes tallied seven field goals in that stretch as the Trojans asserted themselves in the paint. The junior made offense look easy against the undersized Barton front line.

"It's all about working hard," said Hayes. "I wanted to start strong and be effective on both the offensive and defensive ends of the floor."

MOC led by 22 at halftime.

"I thought Mount Olive out-played us from the opening whistle," said Barton head coach Ron Livense. "Hats off to those guys tonight because they showed why they are undefeated in league play."

The Bulldogs briefly cut into the deficit in the opening moments of the second half thanks to seven consecutive points by shooting guard Jaren Haley.

With his team leading 66-50, Mike Holloman silenced the run and ignited the near-capacity crowd. Holloman collected a pass in the open floor from Derek Staton and delivered a thunderous one-handed slam along the left baseline.

"Our guys played maybe our best defensive game of the season and we created some offense off of that hustle," said Higginbotham. "We needed that intensity."

Hayes led the Trojans with 26 points and 11 rebounds. Staton added 17 points and Holloman finished with 15 points.

Eddie Kershaw paced the Bulldogs with 19 points and nine rebounds. Haley added 14 points in the loss.

"There is always a little something extra on the line when these two teams play," said Higginbotham. "We won tonight, but I think our guys understand that this is no time to get complacent."

Mount Olive travels to Lees-McRae on Saturday.