Hawks blow out Mt. Olive

Published 5:41 pm Saturday, December 13, 2008

MURFREESBORO – This test was passed — with flying colors.

As Chowan University’s students enter their exam period this week, the student-athletes on the men’s basketball team ‘aced’ their home game against Mt. Olive College with a 93-58 blowout at the Helms Center Wednesday night.

In fact, there was even one ‘perfect score’: sophomore Layth Mansour whose 23 points to lead all scorers came on not missing a field goal (9-for-9) or free throw (5-for-5) the entire game.

Senior guard Aaron Scott chipped in 20 while junior Jaleel Nelson added 18. All 13 Chowan roster players saw time on the court as the Hawks won their fourth game in their last five starts to move within a game of .500 at 4-5.

Derek Staton led the Trojans with 15 while Craig Hayes had 11.

“I think the competition we played early has prepared us for a game like this,” said coach Jim Tribbett afterward. “This is a smart team and I think they’re beginning to understand the concept we’re trying to teach.”

After Mt. Olive opened the game at 4-0, Scott hit a three-pointer to open the scoring for the Hawks. With the score 6-3, Scott was fouled as he scored on a lay-up, and the free throw tied the game at 6-all.

Mansour scored later to give Chowan their first lead and they never looked back from there as their pressure trapping defense led to 19 turnovers that the Hawks converted to 27 points.

The Trojans cut the lead to one at 12-11, but the Hawks went on a 9-2 run. After later trimming the lead to eight at 28-20, Scott made a twisting athletic move on a drive to the basket dropping a soft jumper and was fouled for a three-point play that made it a 12-point lead.

Mt. Olive (2-4) never again got within 10 before the break as Chowan cruised into halftime ahead by twenty, 52-32.

In the second half the Hawks opened with an 18-6 run, culminated by Nelson’s three-point play that made it 70-38 on a steal, pull-up jump shot and free throw. After that the Hawks comfortably kept the lead in the 30’s, and included in that bulge was Nelson’s crowd-thrilling steal and rim-rattling slam-dunk.

The largest lead of the evening was 40 at 85-45 with under five minutes to play as Chowan cruised to a 35-point win, shooting 64 percent (30-47) from the floor for the game, including hitting 8-of-14 from behind three-point arc.

“I was in the zone a little bit tonight, and we played good defense” said a smiling Scott after the game. “When my teammates found me open I just dropped the shot.”

“Coach made it a point to make sure we didn’t give them an idea that they could beat us next time,” added Charles Rhodes, who finished with eight points, five rebounds, and three assists. “And give it to Layth, he was finishing everything.”

“Wow!” said a surprised Mansour when he learned of his ‘perfect’ night of shooting. “I haven’t had a night like this since high school.”

“Nobody was being selfish and our guards just dished it out”, he added with a shrug. “And our bench has also given us a lot of energy.”

The Hawks reserves scored 48 of the team’s 93 points.

“Our kids are top-shelf people,” said Tribbett, nodding toward where the players were gathered after the game with families and friends, “and they take a lot of pride in the way we play.”

Chowan’s off for exams this next week. They’ll travel to Mt. Olive for the return match-up between these two schools on the 17th before returning home to host Cheyney University of Pennsylvania December 20 in a 7:30 p.m. contest.