MOUNT OLIVE, N.C. – Kendrick Easley went 10-for-10 from the free throw line and led five players in double figures with a game-high 23 points as Mount Olive rallied for a 78-68 victory over Coker in Conference Carolinas men’s basketball Monday at Kornegay Arena. The Trojans trailed by as many as seven in the first half
The early minutes of the first half saw five ties and four lead changes as three-pointers by Easley and Aaron Dobson gave Mount Olive (4-6 overall, 3-0 Conference Carolinas) a 12-11 lead with 14:09 left in the first half. Lukas Varga scored seven of Coker’s first nine points and Vatrick Thompson hit a pair of three-pointers as the Cobras built a 27-20 lead with 5:17 remaining before halftime.
Justin Melton, the fifth Trojan to hit a three-pointer in the first half, pulled Mount Olive within four and Mount Olive eventually tied the game 33-33 on Dobson’s three with 1:33 remaining. The Trojans scored 21 of 27 points from beyond the arc during a span of 15 minutes in the first half.
Coker (4-6, 0-3) regained the lead on Josh Poston’s three-point play with 29 seconds remaining. But Mount Olive turned an intentional foul with 10 seconds left into a virtual four-point play as Easley and Craig Hayes both sank a pair of free throws to give the Trojans a 37-36 lead at the break.
Varga, who scored 12 of his team-high 18 points in the first half, put Coker back on top in the opening minute of the second half. Hayes then hit a pair of layups for Mount Olive during a 7-0 scoring run to give the Trojans a 44-38 lead with 15:47 left to play.
Coker chipped away at the margin and Thompson’s three-pointer with 11:51 remaining gave the Cobras a 49-48 lead. But Easley answered with a three-pointer on Mount Olive’s next possession and the Trojans led the remainder of the game.
Mount Olive extended the lead to as many as six before Varga capped a Coker run with a pair of free throws to pull the Cobras within 61-59 with 6:08 remaining. But that was as close as Coker would get as Easley hit his third three-pointer of the night and Dobson connected on his third trey to give Mount Olive a 69-61 advantage with 3:36 left to play.
The lead never fell below six points the rest of the way and Justin Foskey hit 6-of-6 free throws in the final 1:23 to seal the win. Foskey scored eight of his career-high 11 points in the second half.
Hayes finished with 14 points, nine rebounds and four assists, coming within one board of his second straight double-double. Dobson finished with 12 points in his first collegiate start, while Holloman added 11 points, four assists and three blocked shots. The Trojans were 10-for-20 from three-point range and 24-for-30 from the free throw line. Mount Olive outrebounded Coker 40-27.
Poston finished with 14 points for Coker, while Thompson added 13 and Mason Ambler chipped in 10 points to go with eight rebounds and three blocked shots. The Cobras shot 54.5 percent (12-for-22) in the first half, but were limited to 33.3 percent (11-for-33) in the second half.
Mount Olive returns to action Thursday as the Trojans travel to Belmont, N.C., to take on Belmont Abbey in a Conference Carolinas match-up. Tip-off is 7:30 p.m. Coker plays host to St. Andrews Thursday at 7:30 p.m. in Conference Carolinas action.