Trojans Begin "University Of Mount Olive Era" With 94-55 Win Over Converse

Kiara Jones hits a layup near the end of the first half
Kiara Jones hits a layup near the end of the first half

University of Mount Olive used a 22-1 run on its way to a 40-point halftime lead as the Trojans defeated Converse 94-55 in Conference Carolinas women's basketball Thursday at Kornegay Arena. Joneiqua Gary led four players in double figures with 23 points as 15 of 16 Trojans got in the scoring column. The win was Mount Olive's sixth in its last seven games.

Thursday's contest was the first of any Trojan athletics team in the "University of Mount Olive era." Mount Olive College became University of Mount Olive on New Year's Day.

Katie Paschal hit an uncontested layup off the opening tip and three-pointers by Gary and Kirksten Mitchell broke a 2-2 tie to put Mount Olive (7-3 overall, 2-0 Conference Carolinas) ahead to stay. Gary's three-pointer with 15:03 remaining gave Mount Olive its first double-digit lead at 17-7.

Converse (0-10, 0-2) used three-pointers by Kassidy Moorhouse and Jenna White to stay within striking range. But the margin grew to 20 after backcourt steals and layups by Gary and Paschal, sandwiched around Leah Graham's three-point play gave the Trojans a 34-14 lead with 11:27 before halftime.

Mount Olive held the Valkyries to a single free throw over an eight-minute span and the Trojans extended their lead to 48-15 on Ansia Dial's putback with 4:45 remaining. Gabby Griffin hit a layup with 25 seconds left and found Kiara Jones for a layup with three seconds left to give Mount Olive a 61-21 halftime lead.

The margin reached 42 points in the second half and never fell below 34 points.

Paschal finished with 18 points on 7-for-9 shooting to go with a team-high five assists, while Mitchell and Ty Wallace added 11 points apiece. Wallace was a perfect 5-for-5 from the field. Jasmine McDonald was held to single digits in scoring, but finished with 13 rebounds, four assists and four steals. McDonald entered the game tied for sixth in the nation in assists and ranked 25th in rebounding. Gary, who ranks seventh in the nation in three-point field goals per game, hit four three-pointers.

Moorhouse led Converse with 13 points, while Erin Horne added 11 points and a game-high six assists.

Mount Olive has one day off, then plays host to Limestone in a rematch of the semifinal round of last year's Conference Carolinas women's basketball tournament. The Trojans defeated the (then) nationally eighth-ranked Saints 79-66 in overtime. Tip-off is 2 p.m. at Kornegay Arena, followed by Trojan men's basketball vs. Limestone at 4 p.m.