Joneiqua Gary hit five 3-pointers for 19 points and Tamara Nesmith came within one assist of a triple-double as Mount Olive broke open a close game in the second half for a 74-48 victory over Lees-McRae in Conference Carolinas women's basketball Saturday at Kornegay Arena. Nesmith finished with game highs of 20 points, 11 rebounds and nine assists to help the Trojans celebrate the 30th Annual Basketball Church Night.
After Mount Olive (13-7 overall, 9-7 Conference Carolinas) saw a 10-point halftime lead cut to six, the Trojans broke the game open with a 12-0 run. Six-foot center Alyssa Luebs made a steal at midcourt and drove in for an acrobatic layup past a Lees-McRae defender and Nesmith followed with a fastbreak layup to help spark the run. Gary added a three-pointer and Kirksten Mitchell's layup capped the run to give the Trojans a 54-38 lead with 11:28 left in the contest.
The margin never fell below 14 the rest of the way and the lead reached the 20-point mark at 62-42 on McDonald's free throw with 5:45 remaining. Mount Olive's biggest lead was 27 points with 1:31 left.
Nesmith, who scored 14 points in the first half, dished out her ninth assist with 4:37 left in the game and pulled down her 10th rebound with 2:54 remaining. She had two opportunities for her 10th assist and the third triple-double in Trojan history, but Lees-McRae fouled the shooter both times to prevent the baskets.
Mount Olive built a double-digit lead in the first half as back-to-back three-pointers by Gary and Mitchell gave the Trojans a 28-18 lead with 6:28 left. Lees-McRae's Lauren Lewis capitalized on a bizarre sequence to help trigger her own 8-0 run to cut the Trojans' lead to a field goal.
A Trojan inbounds pass was tipped off of a referee at midcourt and into the hands of Lewis, who raced downcourt for a layup and free throw. Lewis followed with a three-pointer and then hit a 12-foot jumper to pull Lees-McRae within 28-26 with 3:59 remaining. But those would be the Bobcats' final points of the half.
Mount Olive ended a five-minute scoring drought as Nesmith found Leah Graham in the lane for a short jumper with 1:25 left. Nesmith hit a fast-break jumper 20 seconds later off of Alexandra Silva's near length-of-the-court pass.
Silva found Nesmith again for a layup with 34 seconds left and Nesmith returned the favor as Silva's layup with four seconds left to build the margin back to double digits at 36-26 at halftime.
McDonald finished with 10 points and five rebounds for Mount Olive, while Silva tallied five points, six rebounds and four assists. The win snapped the Trojans' four-game losing skid.
Lewis scored 14 of her 19 points in the first half to lead Lees-McRae. Kabrina Truesdale dished out six assists for the Bobcats.
Mount Olive returns to action Wednesday as the Trojans play host to Coker in a Conference Carolinas match-up. Mount Olive fell 78-64 in the first meeting December 15 at Coker. Tip-off is 5:30 p.m. at Kornegay Arena and will be followed by Trojan men's basketball vs. Coker at 7:30 p.m.