03/02/11 — Trojan women eliminate Crusaders

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Trojan women eliminate Crusaders

By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on March 2, 2011 1:47 PM

MOUNT OLIVE -- Defense wins ballgames.

Mount Olive hopes the adage proves true, and leads to a Conference Carolinas tournament crown and an NCAA tournament appearance.

The second-seeded Trojans held Belmont Abbey to 21-percent shooting in the opening half of their 66-44, quarterfinal-round win Wednesday evening inside Kornegay Arena.

Mount Olive (20-7 overall) entertains third-seeded Limestone in the semifinals Friday at 7 p.m. Regular-season champion Barton opposes Queens in the other semifinal. The winners meet Sunday with the NCAA Division II Southeast Regional automatic bid at stake.

Active defensively from the opening tip, the Trojans disrupted the Crusaders' deliberate-style offense with a variety of strategies. Each scheme proved effective as Belmont Abbey burned seconds off the shot clock before it could get into an offensive set.

The Trojans pulled the Crusaders' post players away from the basket and made them handle the ball more. MOC overplayed the passing lanes, picked Belmont Abbey for steals and gave itself extra possessions.

"We made the post players put the ball on the floor, so we could get to the guards and get our hands on the ball," said MOC senior point guard Shequanta McGee, who had four of the team's 13 steals.

The seventh-seeeded Crusaders (12-15) converted just three field goals in the first 10 minutes, and hit just 5 of 24 shots by halftime.

Belmont Abbey trailed by just a point early in the game, but Joneiqua Gary's 3-pointer capped a 9-0 run to put MOC ahead 14-4. The Crusaders climbed within 17-11, and baskets by Jasmine McDonald and Alyssa Luebs sparked an 8-0 surge to make it 25-11 with 9:42 to go before intermission.

Luebs supplied eight points, six rebounds and three blocked shots off the bench. The sophomore has averaged 13 points in her last two outings after scoring a career-high 18 against St. Andrews on Saturday.

"We wanted defense to be our focus and purpose in the first half," said Trojans head coach Wendy Lee. "Regardless of what's happening, whether we're making shots or they're hitting a few buckets, we have to stay dug in with our defense.

"Active hands ... constant pressure that keeps them from running their triangle offense and being disruptive on defense required a lot of energy, and we were putting it out there."

The Trojans led 34-17 at halftime.

The Crusaders buried on a 3-pointer on their opening possession of the second half. Andrea Jones, who led all scorers with 15 points, responded with a 3-pointer for the Trojans. Brittany Miller's jumper around the 16-minute mark pushed the advantage to 43-23 and Belmont Abbey never threatened.

Mount Olive coaxed the Crusaders into 21 turnovers and won the rebounding battle, 41-35. The Trojans had 17 team assists on 25 made field goals.