03/10/10 — Tough Montevallo squad awaits Mount Olive

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Tough Montevallo squad awaits Mount Olive

By Andrew Stevens
Published in Sports on March 10, 2010 1:46 PM

For the fifth time in the past seven years, the University of Montevallo (Ala.) has earned a berth in the NCAA Division II men's basketball tournament.

The seventh-seeded Falcons (23-7 overall) meet Conference Carolinas champion and second-seeded Mount Olive at 2:30 p.m. in opening-round play of the Southeast Regional on Saturday. Augusta State (Ga.) University is the host school.

The Montevallo-MOC winner plays either third-seeded Georgia College & State or sixth-seeded USC Aiken in the semifinals on Sunday.

The Falcons lost 65-60 to USC Aiken in the Peach Belt Conference tournament championship on Sunday. It was Montevallo's second loss in its last six outings.

Senior guard and Raleigh native Freddie Little, a Bunn High graduate, leads the Falcons in scoring with 16 points per game. Little's backcourt mate, Tauras Dortch, provides 13 points a game and forward Gerald January adds 12 points a contest.

Forward Cecil Coleman is the fourth Montevallo player in double figures with 11.5 points per game.

"Montevallo is about seven or eight guys deep and they are a lot like us as far as depth," said Mount Olive head coach Joey Higginbotham. "Little can score from everywhere, and he is the guy that they are going to look to for offense. Little is as good a guard as we will see the rest of the season."

Mount Olive (25-5) is making its sixth regional appearance in the last seven years. After five trips to the East Regional, this year marks the Trojans' first trip to the Southeast Regional.

The Trojans earned an automatic bid after defeating Anderson (S.C.) University 83-80 on Sunday at Kornegay Arena in the championship game of the Conference Carolinas Tournament.

Mount Olive has an all-time 4-5 record in NCAA tournament play. The Trojans captured the East Regional championship in 2005 and made their first-ever appearance in the Elite Eight. MOC is seeking its first NCAA tournament win since a come-from-behind, 86-83 victory over Shippensburg (Pa.) University in the first round of the 2006 East Regional.

"We are going to need to execute in the half court and be physical underneath," said Higginbotham. "We have to play our game and be able to dictate the pace."