Tamara Nesmith scored 25 points and grabbed 12 rebounds, but Mount Olive turned the ball over twice in the final eight seconds to thwart a second half comeback and host Lees-McRae pulled out a 72-70 Conference Carolinas decision Saturday afternoon in Banner Elk, N.C. Nesmith has recorded six double-doubles this season, including three in a row.
The Trojans (8-2 overall, 4-2 Conference Carolinas) raced out to an 8-0 lead, but the Bobcats (1-4, 3-5) closed the half on a 27-13 run to take a 40-32 lead into the locker room at intermission. Lees-McRae extended its lead to 10 early in the second half as Mount Olive missed its first six shots from the field. A Nesmith layup with 15:38 remaining got the Trojans going.
Mount Olive closed within three before the Bobcats' Kabrina Truesdale delivered a three-pointer to stretch the lead back to 52-42 with 13:17 left.
The Trojans began their surge back with a pair of Kirksten Mitchell free throws. Alyssa Luebs' efforts on the offensive boards led to another basket and Mount Olive was on its way to an 11-0 run. Luebs turned a Nesmith steal into a layup, then added a free throw to cut the lead to 52-49 with 11:28 remaining. Baskets by Mitchell and Luebs gave Mount Olive its first lead since midway through the first half.
In the final 11 minutes, the lead changed hands 14 times, as neither team could find a way to stop the other.
Nesmith gave the Trojans their final lead of the contest with a three-point play with 59 seconds remaining. After a timeout, Layana DeSouza brought the Bobcats even with a layup with 37 seconds remaining.
Mount Olive got two chances to regain the lead. A steal by Kerri Belcher, however, ruined the first opportunity. With eight seconds remaining, Belcher drew a foul and made both free throw attempts for the winning margin.
Mount Olive still had time for a shot, but the last of the team's 21 turnovers denied the chance.
Mitchell added 17 points for Mount Olive.
DeSouza finished with 15 points for the Bobcats, while Truesdale and Alyssa Munson added 12.
Mount Olive returns to action Wednesday evening when Queens University comes to Kornegay Arena for a 5:30 p.m. start.