Joneiqua Gary and Katie Paschal scored 15 points apiece and Jasmine McDonald continued her streak of double-digit rebounding games, but it wasn't enough as Mount Olive fell to Lander 81-67 in non-conference women's basketball Friday at Aiken, S.C. The game was the Trojans' season opener and part of the Holley Tractor/Crescent Automotive Conference Challenge, hosted by USC Aiken.
Mount Olive (0-1) used a pair of three-pointers by Shy'lia Buie sandwiched around a Kirksten Mitchell three-pointer to take a 17-16 lead with 11:19 left in the first half. But that would be the Trojans' last lead as Lander (1-0) tied the game on Ty'hesha Reynolds' three-pointer on took the lead for good when Alexis Armstrong's basket with 9:23 remaining broke a 19-19 tie.
The Trojans trailed by as many as 12 points in the first half before Paschal's three-point play and Ty Wallace's basket helped pull the Trojans within 41-36 with 1:25 left before halftime. But Mount Olive failed to score on its final two possessions and trailed 45-36 at the half.
Mount Olive got as close as seven early in the second half, but Kayla West's three-pointer with 16:02 left to play gave Lander a 51-40 lead and the Bearcats led by double digits the remainder of the game. The margin grew to as many as 22 points before Mount Olive made a late run as Gary's three-pointer pulled the Trojans within 75-63 with 1:59 remaining.
McDonald pulled down 14 rebounds to go with five assists and came within a point of a double-double. McDonald reached double figures in rebounds in all three Conference Carolinas Tournament games last year and had 14 rebounds against Clayton State in the first round of last year's NCAA Division II Southeast Regional.
Paschal, a transfer from Division I East Carolina, added seven rebounds and was 5-for-5 from the free throw line in her Trojan debut. Mitchell added 12 points and nine rebounds, and shared game-high honors with six assists. Mitchell's rebound and assist totals were both career highs. The Trojans outrebounded Lander 49-44.
Reynolds led all players with 23 points for Lander, while West added 21 points and six assists. Armstrong notched a double-double for the Bearcats with 16 points and 16 rebounds.
Mount Olive concludes tournament play Saturday as the Trojans take on USC Aiken. Tip-off is 4 p.m.