Tamara Nesmith made a steal and hit two free throws in the final five seconds to help Mount Olive hold off King and remain unbeaten as the Trojans withstood the Tornado 60-56 in Conference Carolinas women's basketball Tuesday at Kornegay Arena. Nesmith came close to a triple-double with nine points, 11 rebounds and seven assists. Kirksten Mitchell led the Trojans with a game-high 17 points.
The Trojans (4-0 overall, 3-0 CC) led 56-46 following a Mitchell lay-up with 5:46 remaining. Mount Olive made just one field goal and missed the front end of two one-and-one opportunities down the stretch. With the game on the line, Nesmith delivered the game-winners. Nesmith then added a steal and teammate Anamaria Zjacic blocked a shot as time expired.
The win keeps the Trojans atop the conference standings, one-half game ahead of Barton and Limestone.
The Trojans never trailed in the contest, and built a lead of 13 points twice in the first half. The Tornado (2-2, 0-2) turned the ball over four times as Mount Olive raced out to a 12-2 lead less than five minutes into the contest. Senior Alyssa Luebs scored six points in the run as 10 of the first 12 points by the Trojans came from inside the paint.
Mount Olive expanded the cushion to 24-11 with 8:50 left in the half as Joneiqua Gary hit a pair of three-pointers and Mitchell added a lay-up.
Mitchell and Gary led the Trojans with 17 and 14 points respectively. Defensively, Mount Olive forced King into 17 turnovers, 13 as the result of Trojan steals. Jasmine McDonald finished with seven steals to bring her total to 20 through four contests. She also contributed eight points, eight rebounds and five assists.
The Trojans shot 55 percent in the opening half to take a 34-26 lead into the locker room.
The Tornado closed the gap to six several times early in the second half. Each time, however, the Trojans were able to build the lead back to double-figures. That changed in the final five minutes.
Chelsea Bowling hit a three-pointer and three free throws combined from Alley Sprouse and Brooke Johnson made it 58-52 with 2:29 remaining. After a timeout, Kelly Jackson made a lay-up and a short jumper to make it 58-56 with 1:12 left.
Mount Olive tried to work the clock in the closing minutes but the maneuver backfired. First, a shot-clock violation turned the ball over, then the Trojans missed the front end of two one-and-one opportunities.
King had only one shot attempt with a chance to take the lead. Bowling's three-pointer with 36 seconds left was off-target and McDonald corralled the rebound to set up Nesmith's heroics.
The Trojans return to action Saturday when Erskine travels to Kornegay Arena for a 2 p.m. start. The men's game will follow at 4 p.m.