University of Mount Olive cut an 18-point second quarter deficit down to seven points, but nationally fifth-ranked and undefeated Limestone College pulled away for a 90-64 victory over the Trojans in Conference Carolinas women's basketball Saturday at Kornegay Arena. The game was televised nationally by American Sports Network, the first live national telecast to originate from the University of Mount Olive campus.
Ni'Ya Styles led the Trojans with 17 points, while Arieal Johnson recorded a double-double with 10 points and 11 rebounds.
Mount Olive (10-9 overall, 8-5 Conference Carolinas) trailed by 13 after one quarter of play and fell behind 37-19 with just over six minutes left before halftime. The Trojans chipped away at the deficit as Styles sandwiched a pair of three-pointers around a three by Rachel Fehl. Felicity Havens' three pointer closed the gap to single digits. Tommarah Harris' steal set up a layup by Kiara Jones to pull Mount Olive within 42-35 with 1:37 left before halftime.
Limestone (18-0, 13-0) answered on its next possession with a three-pointer by Maurissa Lester and Jasmine Kearse's short jumper just before the horn brought the margin back to double digits at 47-37 at halftime.
Another three-pointer by Styles and a layup by Fehl off a Styles steal helped pull Mount Olive back within seven at 52-45 with 6:30 left in the third quarter. The Trojans had a chance to make it a two-possession game, but missed seven consecutive shot attempts and went more than six minutes without a field goal. Amaura Brandt and Kearse hit back-to-back three-pointers to help the Saints build the lead to 15 points and Mount Olive never recovered.
Jones added 10 points and six rebounds for Mount Olive, which outrebounded Limestone 51-39.
Lester led all players with 27 points for Limestone, while Kearse finished with 19 points and six assists. Brandt hit 6-of-8 three-point attempts for 18 points.
Saturday's contest marked the Mount Olive women's basketball team's second appearance on national television, both times against Limestone. The Trojans played at Limestone on national television in January 2010.
Mount Olive returns to action Wednesday as the Trojans travel to Wilson, N.C., to take on Barton in a Conference Carolinas match-up. Tip-off is 5:30 p.m.