12/16/11 — Trojan women adapting to opponents' physicality

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Trojan women adapting to opponents' physicality

By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on December 16, 2011 1:46 PM

A bloodied lip.

An elbow to the ribs.

A hard foul that takes your breath away.

The Mount Olive College women's basketball team has seen -- and felt -- it all during the non-conference portion of its schedule. And the Trojans haven't backed down one single time.

"We want to play good teams, tough teams, big teams, physical teams because we've got to get ourselves mentally and physically ready for our conference," said 12th-year MOC head coach Wendy Lee. "I want us to be physical back and I think that's probably the thing that's different about this year's group from last year. I think we're a little tougher.

"I think we like physical play."

The Trojans' next head-knocker is Saturday afternoon when they face yet another physical Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association team -- Virginia Union. MOC is 3-1 against the CIAA this season.

Tip-off is 4 p.m. inside Kornegay Arena.

"I don't think we'll play anybody more physical, anybody that puts more pressure on the ball like teams we see from the CIAA," said Lee. "I think that helps our guards become accustomed to full-court man pressure ... physical pressure. Our post players, we're going to be tougher.

"Playing these kinds of games helps us in many different ways."

Virginia Union (2-4 overall) is led by 6-foot senior forward Vickie Collier, who averages a double-double -- 18 points, 10.3 rebounds -- a game and has emerged the team's top scorer in five games this season. Collier has tallied 20-plus points in three outings and shoots 43 percent from the floor.

Freshman guard Ashle Freeman knocks down 11.7 points a game and leads the Panthers with 26 steals. Freshman forward Danielle Ferguson contributes 10.8 points and 5.5 rebounds a contest.

Senior guard Valentina Wheeler supplies 9.5 points.

The Panthers have picked their opponents for 104 steals this season. Conversely, the Trojans average 22.2 turnovers a game -- 11th-worst among Conference Carolinas teams.

St. Augustine's pressured Mount Olive's guards, which forced them to take more time bringing the ball upcourt and exhausted precious seconds off the shot clock.

"It was still problematic for us with the pressure, getting the ball up the floor and being settled in our offense at times, but not as bad as other games," said Lee. "It was ugly, but there were less possessions where we were frantic and out of control. There have been games where we've struggled to get into our offense.

"We haven't reached the pinnacle of that part of our game, and is an area where we need to improve."

MOC must create turnovers of its own and control the boards, which proved critical against St. Aug's. The Trojans held the Falcons to 13 offensive rebounds, and found a way to get to the free throw line 23 times.