MOUNT OLIVE, N.C. – Mount Olive’s Kendrick Easley scored a game high 29 points as the the top-seeded Trojans defeated No. 8 seed Coker 95-75 in the first round of the 2010 Conference Carolinas Men’s Basketball Tournament Tuesday at Kornegay Arena. Mount Olive used a 22-0 run in the first half to overcome an early deficit and opened the second half with a 17-2 run to break away from a 12-point halftime lead.
Mount Olive (23-5) advances to Friday’s semifinals and will play host to No. 4 seed Pfeiffer, a 112-93 winner over fifth-seeded Queens. The higher seeded teams host each round of the tournament. Mount Olive is assured of playing all of its tournament games at home.
Coker ends their season with a record of 11-16 overall and 8-12 in Conference Carolinas play.
The Trojans were down 13-10 to start the game, but baskets by Easley and Holloman put Mount Olive ahead to stay. Craig Hayes’ putback capped the run and gave the Trojans a 32-13 lead with 10:13 left in the first half.
The lead grew to 22, but Coker mounted a comeback as Jonathon Gardner’s (Florence, S.C.) three-pointer with 2:22 remaining ignited a 10-0 run to end the half. Ryan Aijan (Santa Barbara, Ca.) hit a pair of free throws with five seconds left to pull the Cobras within 48-36 at the break.
Hayes connected on back-to-back three-pointers in the first 45 seconds of the second half and an Easley’s four-point play with 15:48 left in the game extended Mount Olive’s lead to 65-38. The Trojans took their biggest lead of the game at 80-52 on Justin Foskey’s three-pointer with 8:08 left to play.
Hayes finished with 16 points, while Lamonte’ Theus had 13 points and Derek Staton added 12 points. Theus and Staton dished out seven assists apiece. Mount Olive shot 59.3 percent from the field (35-for-59) and was 12-for-22 from three-point range.
Ricardo Smith (Darlington, S.C.) led Coker with 15 points off the bench in his final collegiate game, while Vatrick Thompson (Columbia, S.C.) added 10 points. Coker shot 50.9 percent from the floor (28-for-55).
In Tuesday’s other first round games, No. 7 seed Belmont Abbey upset second-seeded Limestone 79-64, while No. 3 seed Anderson eliminated sixth-seeded and defending conference champion Barton 93-73.
Tip-off for Friday’s semifinal-round match-up is 7 p.m. at Kornegay Arena. The championship game is scheduled for Sunday at 2 p.m. The tournament champion earns an automatic bid to the Southeast Regional of the 2010 NCAA Division II Men’s Basketball Championship.