03/13/13 — Division II Southeast Regional: Trojan women enter as the underdog

View Archive

Division II Southeast Regional: Trojan women enter as the underdog

By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on March 13, 2013 1:48 PM

MOUNT OLIVE -- None of the current players were around when the Mount Olive College women's basketball team stunned nationally-ranked Indiana (Pa.) University in the opening round of the 2008 NCAA Division II South Atlantic Regional.

The Trojans were the underdog then.

They're in that same role now.

Eighth-seeded Mount Olive faces No. 1-ranked and unbeaten Clayton State (Ga.) University -- on its home floor -- when the Division II Southeast Regional tips off Friday. The Lady Lakers (29-0 overall) won the national championship in 2011 and are heavily favored to make another title run.

"No one on the team has the 'been there, done that' mentality, so I'll have to find some way to translate that for them," Trojans head coach Wendy Lee said. "IUP had never even heard of Mount Olive College and probably underestimated us, our ability and our league. That will be something that we can use to our advantage that maybe ... just maybe ... Clayton State will take us lightly.

"They have less to prove, but have a lot to lose."

The Trojans (18-11) emerged the automatic qualifier from Conference Carolinas after they pulled off three consecutive upsets against higher-seeded teams. Two of those teams -- Limestone and Pfeiffer -- received at-large regional invitations along with fellow league member Barton.

Lee said the regular-season finale at Barton could have been a defining moment.

Mount Olive did not play well and felt kind of low in the locker room after the game. Lee told the team to wipe the slate clean, get ready for the second season and use the adversity as a learning tool the next time they stepped onto the court.

"I've believed in our team all year," Lee said. "At times, I think some of the players have questioned themselves and wondered if we have what it takes. Losing close games and being in close games, our record really is not reflective of who we are.

"I think their resolve was the difference (in the conference tournament)."

The Trojans will need that same determination against the Lady Lakers, who are making their ninth consecutive postseason appearance. They're 14-0 at home this season and have beaten their last eight opponents by an average of 27.6 points.

Clayton State ranks among the nation's top five teams in five statistical categories -- sixth in scoring defense (52.3 points), second in scoring margin (22.2), fifth in field-goal percentage defense (32.1 percent), third in blocked shots per game (6.2), third in turnover margin (6.79) and fifth in 3-point field goal defense (24.9 percent).

The Lady Lakers are eighth nationally with 13.4 steals per outing.

"They don't know what we do or our personnel," Lee said. "Video is going to show you something, but it's not like playing someone two or three times like we did in conference. Hopefully, that will put us on a level playing field.

"But I don't know how we'll match up against them."

Senior guard Drameka Griggs averages 19.9 points and 3.9 steals per game. The Jacksonville (Fla.) University transfer ranks 15th nationally in field-goal percentage (54.4) and 19th in free-throw percentage (86.5).

Senior forward Kayla Mobley grabs seven rebounds a game. Six-foot-1 junior center Shacamra Jackson blocks 2.48 shots an outing, which is eighth best in the nation.