03/13/10 — Montevallo upsets Mount Olive

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Montevallo upsets Mount Olive

By MOC Sports Information
Published in Sports on March 13, 2010 11:18 PM

AUGUSTA, Ga. -- Mount Olive cut a 16-point second-half deficit down to three, but the rally came up short as the second-seeded Trojans fell to No. 7 seed Montevallo 84-70 in the first round of the Southeast Regional in the 2010 NCAA Division II Men's Basketball Championship Saturday at Augusta, Ga. Mount Olive ends its season with a record of 25-6, tied for the second-highest single-season win total in school history. The Trojans won 20 of their final 22 games of the season.

In their final collegiate game, Mike Holloman recorded a double-double with game highs of 23 points and 10 rebounds, while Kendrick Easley added 15 points and five assists. Easley finishes his career with school records of 2,261 career points and 684 points for the season.

"I'm sitting between two guys I'll miss dearly," Trojan head coach Joey Higginbotham said of Easley and Holloman during the post-game press conference. "Kendrick is not only one of the best shooters in the nation, he's a 3.0 student. Mike has been a great leader and has played every position since he's been here."

Mount Olive trailed by 15 at halftime and was down 46-30 with 18:50 left in the game. The score and the time brought a sense of déjà vu for Mount Olive: the Trojans trailed Shippensburg by the identical score with 18:51 remaining in the first round of the 2006 NCAA II East Regional. Mount Olive rallied for an 86-83 victory.

The Trojans appeared on their way to make lightning strike twice as Easley hit a pair of free throws and a three-pointer, and Craig Hayes added a short jumper to cut the margin to single digits. Easley's three-pointer was Mount Olive's first since Hayes connected from beyond the arc on the Trojans' opening possession.

A steal by Lamonte' Theus led to a pair of free throws by Holloman and Easley added two more free throws. Theus made another steal and finished with a fastbreak layup to cap a 13-0 run and pull Mount Olive within 46-43 with 16:09 remaining.

Hayes forced a Montevallo turnover to give Mount Olive a chance to tie the game. But the Trojans turned the ball back over and Montevallo (24-7) ended a four-minute scoring drought on Cecil Coleman's putback with 14:56 left to play.

Holloman's layup pulled Mount Olive back within three, but three-pointers by Tauras Dortch, Freddy Little and Demarcus Richard highlighted a 12-4 Montevallo run and pushed the margin back to double digits at 59-49 with 9:12 remaining.

Layups by Hayes and Theus helped bring the Trojans within 61-55 with 7:43 left, but that was as close as Mount Olive would get the rest of the way. The margin was in double figures for the final four minutes of the game.

"It wasn't our day," said Higginbotham. "Montevallo's a very good team. They're a heck of a seven seed."

After Hayes hit a three-pointer 26 seconds into the contest, Mount Olive missed on its next 13 attempts from beyond the arc. The Trojans finished 3-for-26 from three-point range.

"We had good looks and those were shots we normally make," said Higginbotham. "They just weren't falling today."