MOUNT OLIVE, N.C. – Brandon Streeter notched his fourth consecutive double-double with 24 points and 10 rebounds and Aaron Dobson’s three-pointer in the final minute helped seal the win as top-seeded and nationally 17th-ranked Mount Olive held off No. 8 seed Coker 85-75 in the quarterfinal round of the 2008 Conference Carolinas Men’s Basketball Tournament Monday at Kornegay Arena. With the win, the Trojans will play host to No. 4 seed and defending national champion Barton in the semifinal round Thursday at Kornegay Arena.
Montel Jones’ three-pointer in the first minute of the contest helped stake Mount Olive (22-6) to an early 7-2 lead. Coker (9-19) rallied as Lukas Varga came off the bench to score six straight points as the Cobras took a 16-11 lead with 13:23 left in the first half.
The lead grew to eight before Josh Brown hit a three-pointer with 7:36 remaining to bring Mount Olive within 23-18. But Coker would extend the lead to double digits as Josh Poston hit a pair of free throws and found Varga for a layup to give the Cobras a 33-23 advantage with 4:01 left before the break.
Dobson’s three-pointer ignited a 12-2 Trojan run as Kendrick Easley’s three-point play with 51 seconds left tied the game 35-35. Easley and Streeter combined for the last nine points of the scoring run.
Mason Ambler hit 1-of-2 free throws with 30 seconds left to give Coker a 36-35 halftime lead. Coker also led at halftime in the two teams’ last regular season meeting, February 14 at Hartsville, S.C.
Coker kept the lead through the first eight-plus minutes of the second half, stretching the advantage to as many as five points before Mount Olive regained the lead with an 11-0 run. Shaugnnon Washum’s layup with 11:31 remaining pulled the Trojans within 50-49 and Mike Holloman’s putback on a missed free throw turned the possession into a four-point play and gave Mount Olive its first lead since the first six minutes of the game.
Justin Melton scored the next five points with a pair of free throws and a three-pointer as Mount Olive appeared to start pulling away. But Vatrick Thompson answered with a pair of runners Coker went back on top 58-57 on Varga’s layup with 8:04 left.
Washum’s free throw tied the game and Streeter’s putback on a missed attempt put Mount Olive ahead to stay 60-58. But the outcome would remain in doubt until the final minute.
Dobson hit his second three-pointer as the Trojans built the lead to seven points. Poston hit a three-pointer to pull Coker within 67-63, but Streeter answered with a three-point play to push the margin back to seven. After a Coker basket, Aking Elting hit a three-pointer with 3:36 remaining to give the Trojans a double-digit lead for the first time at 75-65.
Streeter’s layup with exactly two minutes left gave Mount Olive its biggest lead at 77-66, but Varga answered with a three-point play and a three-pointer to bring the Coker within 77-72 with 1:16 remaining.
After a Coker timeout, Mount Olive ran the shot clock under 10 seconds before Dobson nailed his third three-pointer of the game with 45 seconds remaining to make it a three-possession game. Ryan Fullwood hit a three for Coker 12 seconds later, but Brown sank a pair of free throws and Holloman added a free throw to seal the win.
Streeter, who ranks third in the nation with a 67.6 field goal percentage, was 7-for-9 from the field to go with 10-for-15 shooting from the free throw line. Brown added 13 points off the bench, while Holloman finished with 11 points. Dobson was 3-for-5 from beyond the arc and finished with nine points. Mount Olive outrebounded Coker 38-23.
Varga led Coker with 22 points, while Poston finished with 17 points and five assists.
Both teams shot over 50 percent from the field: Mount Olive 52.1 percent (25-for-48), Coker 54.5 percent (30-for-55). Monday’s game marked the second year in a row the Trojans eliminated Coker in the quarterfinal round.
Thursday’s semifinal is a rematch of the last two conference tournament championship games, both won by Barton. The two teams also faced each other Saturday in the first-ever nationally televised regular season game in conference history.
Barton won Saturday’s regular season finale 84-81. Mount Olive won the first meeting of the season 84-63 January 24 at Kornegay Arena.
The winner will take on the winner of Thursday’s other semifinal between No. 2 Pfeiffer and No. 3 Queens. If Mount Olive wins its semifinal game, the Trojans are assured of hosting the championship game Saturday.
Coincidentally, the women’s tournament semifinal also pits Mount Olive against Barton. The women’s game will be played at Barton.
Mount Olive is 13-1 at Kornegay Arena this season. Thursday’s game tips off at 7 p.m.