01/29/10 — Staton drives Trojans' offense

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Staton drives Trojans' offense

By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on January 29, 2010 1:46 PM

MOUNT OLIVE -- The engine ran smooth.

His delivery slicker than a used car salesman, Derek Staton distributed a career-high and school-record 15 assists, and Mount Olive College thrashed in-state Conference Carolinas foe St. Andrews 104-71 on Thursday evening.

Staton eclipsed the previous mark of 13 assists set by Melvin Creddle during 2006 against Pfeiffer University. A sophomore guard from Norfolk, Va., Staton has 107 assists this season and 219 for his career.

"Pushing the ball was the main thing ... the key that created everything," said Staton. "It started with defense though, getting the ball, pushing it out, my teammates filling the lanes and I just found them."

Craig Hayes, the reigning Conference Carolinas player of the week, led six Trojans in double figures with a double-double -- 22 points and 11 rebounds. Mike Holloman provided 21 points off the bench. Brandon Allen and Mahamed Ibrahim contributed 14 and 12 points, respectively.

Kendrick Easley (12 points) and Lamonte Theus (10 points) completed the double-figure scoring parade.

"That's the type of game we need to play," said MOC head coach Joey Higginbotham of the balanced offensive attack. "When we do that, I think we're a very, very tough team."

Mount Olive (13-4 overall) remained unbeaten in 11 conference outings this season and beat St. Andrews for the 21st time in 24 meetings since 1998.

The Trojans, ranked No. 5 in the Division II Southeast Region poll, grabbed a nine-point lead just five minutes into the opening half. Staton spread four assists among three players as MOC generated offense off its man-to-man, trapping scheme that coerced the Knights (6-12, 2-9) into early turnovers.

MOC tallied 19 points off 20 St. Andrews miscues for the game.

"Our man-to-man defense was good for the most part and when we got the lead, we started to gamble a little bit," said Higginbotham. "We really concentrated the last couple days of practice on our rotations and helping when we do get beat on the baseline. It was a good, team effort on the defensive end."

Hayes' field goal off another Staton assist extended the margin to 24-9 with 13:33 remaining before halftime. Staton entered the break with 10 assists among five different players, and set the record when he assisted Ibrahim on a 3-pointer early in the second half.

The Trojans led 65-43 at that point.

Staton managed just one field goal on four tries, but added six rebounds, and two steals in 32 minutes of action.

"He's the motor that gets everything started," said Higginbotham. "When he plays well, we play well. He's the key to our team and knows it. I'm proud of him and he's deserving of the record because he works his tail off."

Mount Olive shot 50 percent from the floor, owned a 14-rebound edge on the glass and had 29 team assists on 39 field goals.