MOC men drop St. Andrews
By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on February 26, 2011 11:31 PM
MOUNT OLIVE -- Brandon Allen picked the right time to take matters into his own hands Saturday afternoon.
And he, along with fellow senior Aleks Mitrovic, got a much-deserved victory before a vocal Kornegay Arena crowd. Allen pumped in 26 points and Mitrovic played strong on the boards in Mount Olive's 80-71 triumph over in-state Conference Carolinas rival St. Andrews.
The Trojans (14-12 overall, 9-9 CC) begin defense of their conference tournament crown Monday against an undetermined opponent.
"I'm proud as heck of my seniors," said Trojans head coach Joey Higginbotham, who wiped sweat from his brow during the post-game interview. "Aleks and BA, they played their tails off. Derek (Staton) scored a lot, but those two seniors went out with a bang. I told our players before the game we were doing it for them and they also did it for themselves.
"It was a very big win for us."
It was sweet revenge, too. The Knights (13-13, 9-9) won the previous meeting 1 1/2 months ago in Laurinburg.
"We've struggled a little bit here and there throughout the season," said Allen, who scored 17 second-half points. "To get this last win on this home court, we always talk about winning on your home court, so it feels good going out your last game here with a win."
The Trojans seized a 16-point lead midway through the opening half, but the Knights closed the gap to 38-33 on Antonio Moffitt's steal and layup. Staton, who has 999 career points, steered MOC into the locker room with a 43-35 advantage at halftime.
St. Andrews stayed within striking distance and tied the game at 52-52 on Aaron Christian's driving layup.
Then Allen went to work.
Moffitt smothered Staton like a blanket on the next few possessions and that left a driving lane open for Allen. The 6-foot-2, 203-pounder scored off an inbounds pass after a timeout and ignited a game-changing, 19-2 run.
Allen added 11 more points during the surge, while Mitrovic played big on the boards. The 6-7, 205-pound Serbian pulled down four key rebounds, including two on the offensive glass to keep possessions alive for the Trojans.
"They were pin-pointing him (Staton), so I felt like I just had to step up, this was my last time here, so I had to do it here," said Staton. "I tried everything I could to get a hand on every ball. Coach told us to stop settling for (outside) shots and attack the hoop, so I kept trying to get to the basket."
MOC led 71-54 and nearly ran out of gas.
Mitrovic fouled out, while Allen and Staton each played with four fouls. St. Andrews reeled off eight unanswered points by attacking the basket, drawing fouls and stopping the clock.
Free throws from Mahamed Ibrahim, Staton and Allen prevented the Knights from pulling off the comeback. Staton collected 28 points and dished out six assists. Ibrahim contributed eight points, eight rebounds, four assists and blocked five shots.
Ewon Wright pulled down a career-high 11 boards.
The Trojans played without freshman Dory Hines, who suffered a concussion against Queens. His status for Monday's opening-round tournament game remains questionable.