By Andrew Stevens
Published in Sports on February 3, 2011 1:47 PM
MOUNT OLIVE -- With roughly a month left in the regular season, the Mount Olive College men's basketball team is heading in the wrong direction at the wrong time.
The Trojans' offense never found a rhythm in the second half and Mount Olive fell 72-56 to rival Barton on Wednesday night inside Kornegay Arena. It was the Trojans' third straight loss.
Mount Olive's offense hit a lull early in the second half and Jo-Jo Velez's layup increased Barton's lead to 37-26. The margin grew to as much as 17 points as The Trojans shot just 37 percent from the floor, including 6 for 21 from 3-point range.
Derek Staton led Mount Olive with a game-high 25 points. Brandon Allen and Dory Hines each added 11 points.
"We had really good looks with the ball we just didn't make baskets," said Trojans' head coach Joey Higginbotham. "We have to make jump shots to be competitive because we don't have a great inside presence. I thought we had really good looks we just didn't put them in the basket."
The Bulldogs (11-8 overall, 6-5 CC) held a 40-28 edge in rebounding and got to the free throw line 31 times compared to just 12 for Mount Olive. L.J. Dunn led Barton with 20 points. Jarrett Jernigan contributed 15 points.
"That makes us have to guard every time down," said Higginbotham of the disparity in rebounding and free throw attempts. "If we're not making jump shots then we can't be in comeback mode. Barton played tough. They came in and they outworked us.
"We can't keep digging ourselves in these holes."
After Staton hit back-to-back 3-pointers to tie the game at 19-19, the Bulldogs answered with seven unanswered points to take a 26-19 lead. The Trojans clawed back to within 26-24, but Barton led 32-24 at the half.
Staton led Mount Olive with 10 points in the first half while the Bulldogs held an 18-11 edge in rebounding and shot 51 percent from the floor. The Trojans took four charges defensively in the first half and finished with five in the game.
Mount Olive (10-9, 5-6) entertains Pfeiffer on Monday.
"Tonight was big because we had four games in a row against the top four teams in the league," said Higginbotham. "Whether we wanted to split or win all four or whatever, now it just puts that much more emphasis on Pfeiffer on Monday night. We've got to get that win. All in all, we've got to make shots."
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