Mount Olive Holds Off Saint Augustine's 70-68

Photo by James Benson.
Photo by James Benson.

MOUNT OLIVE, North Carolina - The University of Mount Olive women's basketball team defeated the Falcons of Saint Augustine's University 70-68 on Wednesday night in non-conference action at Kornegay Arena. The Trojans improve to 2-0 while the Falcons fall to 2-1.

The contest was the second of the season for the UMO women's basketball team. The head coach for Saint Augustine's was UMO alumni Montel Jones from the 2015 Elite Eight team. 

Saint Augustine's got on the scoreboard first with back-to-back three-pointers from Quiera Gilmore. UMO final got on the scoreboard two minutes into the game following a three from Makayla Nichols. The Falcons held the lead through most of the first quarter but Trojans tied the game at 12 all with 2:20 remaining in the first. UMO held a slight one-point lead 17-16 heading into the second quarter. 

The teams traded the lead in the early minutes of the second quarter but a layup by Cristina Del La Cruz put UMO ahead 25-23 with five minutes until halftime and the Trojans never looked back. Mount Olive closed out the half on a 10-7 run that saw the score sit 35-30 at the halftime horn. 

Mount Olive opened a ten-point lead, 47-37, following a three-pointer from Sherry Johnson at the six-minute mark. UMO's lead extended to 13 points, 55-42, on a Johnson free throw as the clock neared three minutes. As the teams headed into the fourth, the Trojans held on to a 62-47 lead.

A slow start to the fourth quarter for the Trojans allowed the Falcons to cut the UMO lead to two points following a 12-2 run by Saint Augustine's. Mount Olive held on to a razor's edge lead making six free throws to remain in front of SAU and win 70-68.

The Trojans were led by Azariah Fields with 16 points. Hope Toliver added 13 points and Sherry Johnson tallied 11. Johnson and Kelly Post collected double-digit rebounds with Johnson nabbing 11 and Post 10. Fields was close behind with nine rebounds of her own. Makayla Nichols led UMO with five assists and three steals. 

The Falcons were led by Quiera Gilmore with 23 points and 11 rebounds. Kaaliya Williams scored 14 points and Angela Caraballo tallied 10.

The critical moment of the game came in the final four minutes of the game when the Trojans connected on six free throws to remain ahead of SAU and win the game.

Mount Olive takes to the road for a weekend contest in Charlotte, NC., against the Golden Bulls of Johnson C. Smith University. UMO and JCSU are scheduled for a 1 PM first tip.