01/10/13 — Early second-half run helps MOC men

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Early second-half run helps MOC men

By Andrew Stevens
Published in Sports on January 10, 2013 1:47 PM

MOUNT OLIVE -- A month ago Mount Olive was a team mired in a six-game losing streak and searching for answers.

What a difference four weeks makes.

The Trojans used a 14-0 run early in the second half to put away Conference Carolinas foe Queens on their way to an 80-57 victory Wednesday night inside Kornegay Arena. Mount Olive won its fourth in a row and improved to 2-4 in conference play.

"We know we've dug ourselves a hole," Mount Olive head coach Joey Higginbotham said. "We know we're not out. The key to the turnaround has been buying in, a total team commitment and our defensive effort."

Freshman Dominique Reed led the Trojans with a career-high 20 points to go with six rebounds. Darrell Patterson added 15 points and six rebounds. Jordan McCain finished with 13 points and Mahamed Ibrahim had 10 points.

Antonio Stabler scored 17 points for Queens.

Both teams struggled to develop an offensive rhythm throughout the first half. Turnovers haunted the Royals, who turned the ball over 17 times against the Trojans' aggressive ball pressure. Mount Olive (5-7 overall) had trouble solving Queens' 2-3 zone defense.

"We felt like if we could pressure them, our pressure could hurt them," Higginbotham said. "We stayed with our pressure and we felt like we could turn them over and we did. I thought it was a total team win."

Mount Olive began to feast on Royals' miscues and convert turnovers into transition opportunities. The Trojans used fast-break points and trips to the free throw line to fuel a 19-3 run that put them in front 27-12.

The Trojans entered the game shooting 41.5 percent from the floor, but was held to just 27.8 percent in the first half. Queens (5-6, 2-3) began to chip away at the deficit before halftime and closed to within 38-28 at the break.

The Royals' turnover woes continued early in the second half as the Trojans needed fewer than five minutes to reel off 14 straight points to push the lead to 52-28. Queens finished with 34 turnovers and was outrebounded 40-24, including 16-6 on the offensive glass.

Mount Olive converted 34 Royals' turnovers into 37 points.

"The key to (defense) is just making sure we get our rotations right," Reed said. "In the second half we came back and tweaked some things on offense and defense, and we made sure we exploited the openings in their 2-3 defense and rotated a little better on our pressure."

The Trojans visit in-state foe Pfeiffer on Jan. 16.