MOUNT OLIVE, N.C. – In their final collegiate home game, seniors Elton Coffield and Elijah Rouse scored 18 points apiece as No. 2 seed Mount Olive defeated No. 10 seed Coker 88-62 in the quarterfinal round of the 2007 Carolinas-Virginia Athletics Conference Men’s Basketball Tournament Wednesday at Kornegay Arena. The victory was career win No. 300 for Mount Olive head coach Bill Clingan and advances the Trojans to the CVAC Tournament “final four” for the fourth year in a row.
Mount Olive will take on No. 3 seed Queens Friday at 8 p.m. in the semifinal round at Misenheimer, N.C. Queens defeated No. 6 seed Erskine 85-76 as all of the top four seeds were victorious Wednesday.
Mount Olive (22-6) held a 19-17 lead when Coffield’s three-pointer with 5:38 left in the half ignited an 11-0 run to extend the Trojans’ lead to 13. Mount Olive built the lead to as many as 15 after Brandon Streeter’s putback with 55 seconds remaining. Coker (8-21) scored the last four points of the half, capped by Boycho Branzon’s basket with one second remaining to cut the Trojans’ lead to 37-26 at halftime.
Lydell Walker’s basket underneath and Elijah Rouse’s dunk at the start of the second half built Mount Olive’s lead back to 15. Coker pulled within single digits after Joel Hafner’s basket with 15:35 remaining brought the Cobras within 41-33. But Rouse answered with a pair of free throws 11 seconds later and the lead remained at double figures the rest of the game.
The Trojans’ lead was 11 when Coffield, Rouse and Walker combined for all of the points in an 11-0 run to extend the lead to 61-39 with 9:51 remaining. Coker got as close as 15 points, but Rouse’s first collegiate three-pointer – on his third collegiate attempt – highlighted a 15-2 run to give the Trojans their biggest lead at 83-55 with 1:20 left in the game.
The win brings Coach Clingan’s career record to 300-186 for a .617 winning percentage. Including this year, Clingan has amassed 99 wins in the past four seasons.
Walker finished with 14 points and seven boards, sharing team-high rebounding honors with Coffield and Justin Melton. Melton added nine points and a game-high six assists. Rouse, who ranks seventh in the nation with a 64.2 percent field goal percentage, was 7-for-11 from the field as the Trojans shot 52.9 percent from the floor.
Hafner and Jason Fullwood led Coker with 13 points apiece, while Branzon added 11 points and a game-high eight rebounds. Coker, which defeated No. 7 seed St. Andrews Monday in the first round, was 9-for-31 from three-point range.
In Wednesday’s other quarterfinal-round games, top-seeded and defending champion Barton defeated No. 8 seed Belmont Abbey 93-82, while No. 4 seed Limestone defeated fifth-seeded Pfeiffer 98-77. Barton and Limestone will face each other in the semifinal round for the second consecutive year.
Mount Olive and Queens split the regular season series, each team winning on its home court. The two teams faced each other in the 2004 CVAC Tournament semifinal, Mount Olive winning 71-65.
While the CVAC Tournament champion earns an automatic bid to the East Regional of the 2007 NCAA Division II Men’s Basketball Championship, all four teams are ranked in the final regular season East Region top 10 and are in contention for an at-large bid. Mount Olive moved up one spot to No. 7, while Queens moved up one place to No. 9. Limestone re-entered the poll at No. 10 and Barton remained at No. 2.
Pfeiffer University is the host school for this year’s CVAC Tournament “final four.” The two semifinal winners will face each other for the championship Saturday at 7:30 p.m.
Wednesday’s victory extends Mount Olive’s post-season winning streak to 10 as the higher-seeded team, including the CVAC Tournament and the NCAA Tournament. The Trojans have reached the championship game of the CVAC Tournament in each of the last three years, finishing as runner-up each year.