Kirksten Mitchell hit 5-of-5 three-pointers en route to a career-high 21 points and Mount Olive used a 16-0 scoring run across each half to break away from a two-point lead as the Trojans set a modern-day school record for best start to a season with a 79-49 victory over Erskine in Conference Carolinas women's basketball Saturday at Kornegay Arena. The Trojan women's basketball team is off to a 5-0 start for the first time since Mount Olive reclassified to NCAA Division II in 1995.
Mitchell was one of four Trojans to score in double figures as Tamara Nesmith (19 points, 14 rebounds) and Jasmine McDonald (10 points, 10 rebounds) both recorded double-doubles, while Joneiqua Gary hit four three-pointers and finished with 13 points.
Mount Olive started off 4-0 in 2005-06 and most recently in 2008-09 when the Trojans recorded 23 wins, the highest single-season win total since becoming a four-year college.
After scoring the final six points of the first half, Mount Olive (5-0 overall, 4-0 Conference Carolinas) held Erskine scoreless for nearly four minutes into the second half to break the game open. McDonald hit a layup six seconds into the second half and Mitchell and Gary followed with three-pointers as the Trojans extended an eight-point halftime lead to a 48-30 bulge with 16:50 left to play.
Erskine (0-6, 0-3) ended a near six-minute drought as Tori Whittenberg hit one of her game-high six three-pointers with 16:17 remaining. But the margin never fell below 15 points the rest of the game.
Mitchell's three-pointer with 12:22 remaining gave Mount Olive its first 20-point lead at 55-35. Mitchell was on the bench for the final 10 minutes of the contest. The final score was the biggest margin of the game as the Trojans outscored Erskine 41-19 in the second half.
Mount Olive jumped out to a 12-3 lead just over five minutes into the contest as Mitchell hit a three-pointer on the opening possession of the game and capped the early run with a putback. Erskine used the three-ball to get back into the contest as Whittenberg drained a pair of three-pointers and Rosa Powell's three pulled the Flying Fleet with 18-16 with 11:29 left in the half.
Erskine missed a pair of opportunities to tie or take the lead and Gary's three-pointer with 6:40 remaining extended Mount Olive's lead to 25-17. Another three-pointer by Whittenberg capped an 8-2 run to make it a two-point game again, but a turnover on its next possession prevented Erskine from tying the game as the Trojans maintained the lead for the remainder of the half.
Mount Olive was up 32-30 with 1:58 left when Erskine's scoring drought began. Mitchell knocked down a pair of free throws and Nesmith added a fastbreak layup and an offensive putback as Mount Olive went into the locker room with a 38-30 halftime lead.
Alyssa Luebs pulled down seven rebounds for Mount Olive and Mitchell added six boards as the Trojans outrebounded Erskine 52-25. McDonald shared game-high honors with five assists, while Nesmith added four assists and three steals.
Whittenberg finished with 18 points for Erskine, all from three-point range. Tara Potter led the Flying Fleet with eight rebounds, while Haleigh Spaulding dished out five assists.
Mount Olive is idle until December 11 when the Trojans venture to Richmond, Va., to take on Virginia Union in a non-conference match-up. Mount Olive fell at home to Virginia Union 79-71 last December at Kornegay Arena. Tip-off is 6 p.m.