Daria Simmons scored a season-high 21 points and figured in all of the points during a late 10-0 run to put University of Mount Olive ahead to stay as the Trojans held off Saint Augustine's University 54-48 in non-conference women's basketball Sunday at Kornegay Arena. Simmons, who also recorded nine steals, hit a pair of field goals and dished out assists on three Aerial Johnson layups during the run after Saint Augustine's had rallied from a 17-point deficit.
Mount Olive (5-4) led by 12 at halftime and built the lead to 15 in the second half before Shakeisha Washington hit three 3-pointers and scored all of her 11 points in the third quarter to help pull Saint Augustine's within 39-33 entering the final period. The Falcons scored 20 points in the third period after being limited to only 13 points in the entire first half.
After Saint Augustine's (3-7) pulled within a field goal, Simmons converted a three-point play to give Mount Olive a 42-37 lead with 8:52 left to play. Saint Augustine's came back with six unanswered points as Sycoya Dorsey's layup with 5:32 remaining put the Falcons on top 43-42 for their first lead since going on top 1-0 before the opening tip. Mount Olive's coaching staff was assessed a pre-game technical for entering an incorrect jersey number in the scorebook.
The Falcons' lead was short-lived as Simmons' over-the-top pass from the left wing found Johnson for a layup on Mount Olive's ensuing possession to put the Trojans ahead to stay. After a Falcon turnover, Simmons connected with Johnson again underneath.
Saint Augustine's had a chance to cut into the lead, but missed on a pair of free throws. Simmons hit a layup and after another Falcon turnover, Johnson found Simmons on a backdoor cut. The Trojans made a defensive stop and Simmons fed Johnson for a layup to complete the run and give the Trojans a 52-43 advantage with 2:17 left.
Akera McPhaul contributed her own 5-0 run for Saint Augustine's with a three-pointer and a pair of free throws to cut Mount Olive's lead to 52-48 with 1:09 left. But Tomarrah Harris answered with a layup for the Trojans and the Falcons missed their final four field goal attempts.
Mount Olive overcame its pre-game glitch to race out to a double-digit lead after Harris banked in a three-pointer from the right wing to give the Trojans a 13-3 lead with 4:07 left in the first quarter. The Trojans held Saint Augustine's to a single field goal in the first 10 minutes and led 19-4 after one period.
Jada Bacchus' putback in the opening minute of the second period extended Mount Olive's lead to 21-4, but the Trojans would go nine minutes before hitting another field goal. Saint Augustine's cut the margin to single digits after Ke-Ashe Lee's three-pointer pulled the Falcons within 21-13 with 3:02 left before halftime.
Mount Olive ended its field goal drought in spectacular fashion as Simmons stole the ball and dribbled across midcourt. She found Ni'Ya Styles driving the lane and Styles made a no-look behind-the-back pass to Kiara Jones, who finished the play with a layup to give the Trojans a 25-13 lead at intermission.
Simmons was 6-for-8 from the field in the second half and 9-for-14 from the game. She also had five rebounds and five assists. Johnson added nine points and pulled down a game-high 11 rebounds.
Dorsey led Saint Augustine's with 13 points, while Lee added 12 points for the Falcons.
Sunday's contest was Mount Olive's final home game until after the first of the year. The Trojans are off for final exams this week, then play their December finale Saturday at Belmont Abbey College. Mount Olive lost both regular season contests to Belmont Abbey last year, but rebounded to beat the Crusaders 55-52 in the semifinal round of the 2015 Conference Carolinas Tournament. Tip-off is 4 p.m. at Belmont, N.C.