MOUNT OLIVE, N.C. – Kendrick Easley led all scorers with 29 points and Mike Holloman scored 22 of his 29 points in the second half as top-seeded Mount Olive advanced to the championship game with a 124-103 victory over No. 4 seed Pfeiffer in the semifinal round of the 2010 Conference Carolinas Men’s Basketball Tournament Friday at Kornegay Arena. The win is the 19th in the last 20 games for the Trojans, who are in the championship game for the sixth time in the last seven years. Pfeiffer still has an outside shot at a bid to the regional tournament, depending on other outcomes in the South Atlantic and Peach Belt Conferences.
Mount Olive will play host to No. 3 seed Anderson, a 90-89 winner over seventh-seeded Belmont Abbey in Friday’s other semifinal. Mount Olive and Anderson split their two regular season meetings, each winning at home. Tip-off is 2 p.m. at Kornegay Arena. The higher-seeded teams host each round of the conference tournament.
The 124 points mark the most scored by Mount Olive in Kornegay Arena, the second time in as many games against Pfeiffer the Trojans have broken the record. Mount Olive defeated Pfeiffer 114-105 in January. The Trojans also scored 136 points at Pfeiffer in February, the most points since Mount Olive became a four-year college in 1985.
Easley, who became the Trojan men’s basketball career scoring leader during Tuesday’s first round win over Coker, broke the school single-season record for most points in a season. Easley now has 642 points, eclipsing the previous record of 627 set by Marcus West during the 2002-03 season. Easley also became the first Trojan to eclipse the career 2,200-point mark with 2,219 points.
Mount Olive (24-5) built a 20-point halftime lead and led by double digits the entire second half. The margin grew to as many as 24 points after Holloman scored seven points during a 9-0 run to give the Trojans a 75-51 lead with 15:40 left to play.
Pfeiffer (18-10) made a late run as three-pointers by Jeff Pettiway and James Crowder helped pull the Falcons within 107-94 with 4:22 remaining. But that was as close as Pfeiffer would get as a dunk and a three-pointer by Holloman in the final minutes helped seal the win.
Three-pointers by Easley and Theus helped Mount Olive jump out to a quick 8-1 lead and Derek Staton’s basket with exactly 17 minutes left gave the Trojans their first double-digit advantage at 13-3. Mahamed Ibrahim and Craig Hayes combined on a 9-2 run midway through the first half and Ibrahim’s three-pointer gave Mount Olive a 45-25 lead with 7:32 left in the first half.
Pfeiffer connected on four three-pointers in a span of just over two minutes and Jeff Pettiway’s second three-point basket pulled the Falcons with 49-41 with 4:31 left before halftime. But Pfeiffer would score only two more field goals the remainder of the half.
Layups by Theus and Easley stopped Pfeiffer’s scoring run and pushed the margin back to double digits. Easley added a three-pointer and Staton’s layup with 23 seconds left capped a 16-4 run to end the half and give the Trojans a 65-45 lead at the break.
Pettiway and James Crowder connected on three-pointers in the first 62 seconds of the second half as Pfeiffer cut the Trojans’ lead to 15. But Holloman’s scoring spurt helped prevent a Pfeiffer second-half comeback.
Theus scored 17 of his 21 points in the first half, while Staton notched a double-double with 14 points and 11 assists. Theus added seven assists and Easley had five assists. Hayes finished with 14 points and six rebounds, while Holloman pulled down a team-high seven boards. Aleks Mitrovic had four rebounds for the Trojans.
Mount Olive shot a season-high 63.6% (49-for-77) from the field, including 12-for-20 (60.0 percent) from three-point range.
Chris Woods recorded a double-double for Pfeiffer with 24 points and 11 rebounds. Five Falcons were in double figures as Davon Gilliard finished with 21 points, Pettiway had 19 points, Reggie Hollinger added 16 points and Crowder chipped in 13 points.
In contrast to Mount Olive’s 136-128 overtime win at Pfeiffer during the regular season where four players from each team fouled out, nobody fouled out of Friday’s contest.
Mount Olive defeated Anderson 77-65 January 9 at Kornegay Arena, but the Trojans suffered their only conference loss of the year 81-74 February 6 at Anderson. Sunday’s contest marks the first-ever meeting between the two teams in the championship game of the men’s basketball conference tournament. This year is Anderson’s last in Conference Carolinas before joining the South Atlantic Conference next year.