UMO basketball teams surging at right time
By Andrew Stevens
Published in Sports on February 12, 2014 1:48 PM
MOUNT OLIVE -- University of Mount Olive women's basketball coach Wendy Lee reminds her seniors every day how many practices and games they have left in their collegiate careers.
The Trojans have also found their identity.
They discovered during four losses in a five-game stretch that they must out-work opponents defensively and on the glass. Since then, they've reeled off six consecutive wins and a renewed confidence has permeated the locker room.
"I think it is starting to hit some of the seniors that this it for them," said Lee, whose team travels to Belmont Abbey today, weather permitting.
"They don't have any second chances and they're really playing hard. I think what we've come to buy into as a team is that we've got to get stops and then hopefully our offense is going to come for us."
UMO has averaged 47.3 rebounds and posted a plus-10 margin on the boards against opponents during their last five games. The Trojans have allowed just 51.8 points.
"Coach Lee tells us how many practices we have left and games we have left," senior Kirksten Mitchell said. "It's counting down and we knew we had to get it together and win. We all know what we have to do to win. It's just like a puzzle and everybody has to be the same piece, and as long as everybody is one we're good."
The seniors have led by example.
East Carolina transfer Katie Paschal has scored 16.8 points/game during the Trojans' win streak. Jasmine McDonald has supplied 11 points a night, while Mitchell has chipped in 10.
UMO is 14-7 overall and 9-4 in the league.
Guard Dontrel Brite didn't hesitate after a recent victory when he said he believes the UMO men belong in the upper tier of Conference Carolinas.
The Trojans (13-8 overall, 7-4 CC) had their five-game win streak snapped by league-leading King (Tenn.) University. Brite and his teammates share third place with Limestone.
"We needed to get some wins against some teams that were above us," said UMO head coach Joey Higginbotham, whose team plays three of its final five regular-season games on the road.
"We've done that. Now we've got to go on the road for a while. Defense always travels. Offense may come and go, but defense always travels and that's where our blood is and that's what we're going to breathe on."
Brite's recent play has backed up his bold statement. The sophomore averages a team-best 15.2 points and 3.6 assists per game. He is second on the team in free throw attempts (104) behind Dory Hines, who has made 133 trips to the line.
"A lot of my teammates just tell me to attack and then it opens up everything else for them," Brite said. "We have a chip on our shoulder and we feel like we should be in the top spot (in the league) so we want to play like it."
James Kenan alum Mike Moore has been a bright spot for the Trojans off the bench all season. The sophomore averages eight points and five rebounds on the season.
"Mike has grown up even in the last few games," Higginbotham said. "He's slowed down and the game has come to him. He's done everything we've asked him to do. We've just got to keep him out of that early foul trouble so we can keep him on the floor longer.
"He's special and he's a great kid."
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