Alexandra Silva hit all four of her three-point attempts and scored eight of her game-high 16 points during a 15-4 run to start the second half as Mount Olive pulled away for a 70-42 victory over Converse in Conference Carolinas women's basketball Saturday at Spartanburg, S.C. The victory marks the quickest the Trojans have reached the 10-win mark in a season since Mount Olive reclassified to NCAA Division II in 1995.
Mount Olive (10-2 overall, 6-2 Conference Carolinas) led by 14 at halftime and scored 10 of the first 12 points of the second half as Silva's three-pointer and Alyssa Luebs' 10-foot jumper in the lane helped extend the Trojans' lead past the 20-point mark for the first time at 47-26 with 16:46 left to play. Silva hit another three-pointer and her basket with 13:04 remaining gave the Trojans a 53-28 lead.
The margin never fell below 24 the rest of the way and Ty Wallace's layup with 5:16 left gave Mount Olive its biggest lead at 66-36.
The Trojans jumped out to a 6-0 lead in the first two minutes of the contest on three-pointers by Silva and Joneiqua Gary, and Mount Olive led from start to finish. Converse (0-12, 0-7) got as close as two points, but Silva answered with another three-pointer. Luebs layup with 10:34 left in the first half gave Mount Olive a 23-12 advantage and the margin stayed in double figures for good.
In the two teams' first meeting November 17 at Kornegay Arena, Mount Olive raced out to a 35-9 lead en route to an 87-34 victory. While Converse never closed the gap back to single digits, the Valkyries stayed within striking range throughout the remainder of the half.
Kayla Garrett's three-pointer with 8:54 remaining pulled Converse within 25-15. Mount Olive built the lead to as many as 16 points in the first half before Brooke Garrison added a three-pointer for Converse with 3:35 left. The Valkyries held the Trojans scoreless over the final three minutes of the opening half as Mount Olive settled for a 38-24 halftime lead.
Turnovers led to a pair of Trojan baskets in the first 39 seconds of the second half. Silva's steal on Converse's first possession led to a layup by Tamara Nesmith and Gary followed with a layup off of her own steal as the Trojans broke the game open.
Mount Olive is off to its best start since opening the 2008-09 season with a 10-3 record. The Trojans went on to post a Division II-era school record 23 wins that season.
Gary finished with 12 points for Mount Olive, while Nesmith added 11 points and nine rebounds. Silva and Jasmine McDonald shared game-high honors with six assists apiece. Silva was 6-for-9 from the field overall.
Garrett and Ashley Long led Converse with 10 points apiece, while Samira Gillcrese pulled down a game-high 12 rebounds. Jasmine Middlebrooks finished with six assists for the Valkyries.
Saturday's win was the Trojans' first on the road this season in conference play after dropping their first two conference away games.
Mount Olive returns to action Wednesday for the second of three consecutive away games as the Trojans travel to Misenheimer, N.C., to take on Pfeiffer in a Conference Carolinas match-up. Mount Olive won both of last year's meetings, including a 79-73 win at Pfeiffer in which the Trojans rallied from a 16-point deficit. Tip-off is 5:30 p.m., followed by Trojan men's basketball vs. Pfeiffer at 7:30 p.m.