Mount Olive scored the first 14 points of the game, but needed an 8-0 run late in the contest to regain the lead for good as the Trojans defeated Saint Augustine's 76-68 in non-conference women's basketball Saturday at Kornegay Arena. Senior transfer Katie Paschal scored a season-high 23 points off the bench and hit 8-of-9 free throws, including a pair of free throws to put the Trojans ahead to stay.
Mount Olive (3-2) was down 58-54 with less than six minutes left to play when the Trojans began their comeback. Jasmine McDonald hit a layup with 5:57 remaining and after Saint Augustine's missed the front end of a one-and-one, Kirksten Mitchell sank a pair of free throws to tie the game with 5:10 left.
The Trojans stopped Saint Augustine's on its next possession and Paschal was fouled going for an offensive rebound on a Trojan missed jumper. After a media timeout, Paschal hit both ends of the one-and-one to put Mount Olive back on top 60-58 with 4:29 remaining. McDonald completed the run with two more free throws with 3:52 left.
The lead grew to as many as six after a Ty Wallace putback for one of Wallace's game-high 10 rebounds. But Saint Augustine's (2-4) pulled within 66-64 with 2:06 remaining after a pair of layups by Terri Jacobs, including an over-the-head reverse layup from underneath the rim.
That was as close as the Falcons would get as Mitchell notched her own 5-0 run for the Trojans. Mitchell hit both ends of a one-and-one with 1:41 left, then converted a three-point play 20 seconds later after her driving layup from the left side.
Mount Olive maintained a two-possession lead the rest of the way as the Trojans hit 14-of-15 free throws over the final five-plus minutes, including 13 in a row.
In the first half, Joneiqua Gary and McDonald connected on three-pointers less than a minute apart and Paschal hit two free throws with 16:45 remaining to give Mount Olive a 14-0 lead. Lakiya Rouse put Saint Augustine's on the scoreboard with a three-pointer 28 seconds later. The Falcons got as close as nine points before Paschal's three-pointer brought the Trojans' lead back to double digits at 20-8 with 13:47 left.
The Trojans would manage only one field goal over the next 10 minutes and Saint Augustine's took advantage as Jeanne-Marie Wilson's layup off of Porscha Walton's steal gave the Falcons their first lead at 23-22 with 7:26 remaining. Paschal's putback with 3:29 left ended Mount Olive's field goal drought, but Regime McCombs answered with a three-pointer to extend Saint Augustine's lead to 30-25.
Saint Augustine's appeared to be headed into halftime with a five-point lead after Walton converted a Trojan turnover into a layup with nine seconds left. But Gary hit a 40-footer at the buzzer to bring Mount Olive within 36-34 at the break.
Gary, who entered Saturday's contest ranked ninth in the nation in three-point field goals per game, put Mount Olive back on top with a three-pointer on the opening possession of the second half. Paschal's three-point play with 18:18 remaining completed an 11-2 run and gave the Trojans a 42-38 lead. Anamaria Jzacic helped fuel the run with three assists and a steal.
The game saw five ties over the next 11 minutes before Victoria Davis hit a pair of free throws for Saint Augustine's to break a 54-54 tie. Davis converted a steal into a fastbreak layup with 6:35 remaining to give the Falcons a four-point lead before Mount Olive put together its game-changing scoring run.
Gary finished with 16 points for Mount Olive, while McDonald added 14 points, nine rebounds and five assists. Paschal also pulled down nine boards as the Trojans outrebounded the Falcons 46-33.
Jacobs led Saint Augustine's with 15 points, while Walton dished out a game-high seven assists for the Falcons. Brittany Allen recorded five steals.
Mount Olive opens conference play Wednesday as the Trojans play host to Pfeiffer in a rematch of the championship game of last year's Conference Carolinas Women's Basketball Tournament, won by Mount Olive 79-74 in overtime. Tip-off is 5:30 p.m. at Kornegay Arena.