MOUNT OLIVE, N.C. – Craig Hayes led four players in double figures with 22 points and helped spark a 19-2 run to give Mount Olive the lead for good as the regionally fifth-ranked Trojans defeated Coker 82-65 in Conference Carolinas men’s basketball Monday at Kornegay Arena. Mike Holloman added 21 points and Kendrick Easley scored 12 of his 18 points in the second half to lead the Trojans to their 12th win in their last 13 games.
Mount Olive (17-5 overall, 14-1 Conference Carolinas) trailed by seven points late in the first half, but Easley’s steal and layup with four seconds left capped an 8-0 run to end the half and give the Trojans a 31-30 halftime lead. After Coker (9-11, 6-8) scored on the opening possession of the second half, Holloman and Hayes hit three-pointers and Lamonte’ Theus’ three-point play finished a run of 11 unanswered points to give Mount Olive a 42-32 lead with 16:08 left in the contest.
Baskets by Mason Ambler began and ended a 7-0 run for Coker as the Cobras pulled within three. Holloman then scored the game’s next seven points to give Mount Olive a 10-point lead. Coker got as close as five points, but Easley connected on back-to-back three-pointers to give Mount Olive a 59-48 lead with 9:41 and the Trojans led by double figures the rest of the way. The margin never got any closer than 10 and Mount Olive built the lead to 19 in the final minute.
Mount Olive led 19-12 midway through the first half before Joselle Bracy’s putback capped an 8-0 Coker run and put the Cobras in the lead. Mount Olive went back on top, but Vatrick Thompson hit a pair of three-pointers and scored eight points in a 10-0 run to give Coker its biggest lead at 30-23 with 2:39 left in the half.
Hayes’ basket with 2:21 remaining ended a three-minute scoreless drought and Brandon Allen followed with a basket with 1:12 remaining. Easley, who had been held to only two points, hit a short jumper with 24 seconds left and put the Trojans ahead to stay just before the first-half buzzer.
Theus finished with 11 points and shared team-high honors with Holloman with four assists. Hayes pulled down eight rebounds, while Easley, Holloman and Theus had six boards apiece. Allen recorded a career-high five steals. Mount Olive outscored Coker 51-33 in the second half.
Ambler led Coker with a game-high 24 points and matched Hayes with eight rebounds. Thompson added 13 points off the bench.
Monday’s contest was part of “Officials Appreciation Night,” sponsored by the Conference Carolinas Student-Athlete Advisory Committee. Both teams lined up to shake hands with the officials prior to the game.
Mount Olive returns to action Thursday as the Trojans travel up the road to Wilson, N.C., to take on Barton in a Conference Carolinas match-up. The Trojans won the first meeting 88-72 at Kornegay Arena. Tip-off is 7:30 p.m. Coker travels to Anderson Thursday at 7:30 p.m. in Conference Carolinas action.