Gabby Griffin scored a career-high 17 points and Shy'lia Buie's free throw with 3.7 seconds left iced the game as University of Mount Olive withstood a frantic last minute rally to defeat Francis Marion University 64-60 in non-conference women's basketball Thursday at Kornegay Arena. The Trojans led by as many as 13 points in the second half and saw an 11-point bulge cut to three in the final 47 seconds before holding on to snap a four-game losing skid.
"It feels good to get the win," said Griffin, a 5-9 junior forward from Elizabeth City, N.C. "We've been working hard and the hard work paid off tonight."
Mount Olive (3-5) took its biggest lead of the game with 14:22 remaining as Griffin's putback, steal and layup in a span of 14 seconds gave the Trojans a 44-31 advantage. Francis Marion (2-5) got as close as five points, but Ty Wallace's three-point play pushed the margin back to double digits at 58-47 with 6:16 left to play.
Buie gave Mount Olive a 62-51 lead with a pair of free throws and the Trojans appeared to have the game in hand after an offensive rebound with 1:02 remaining. But a Trojan turnover and foul helped spark the Patriots' comeback attempt.
Khayani Chandler hit the first of two free throws for Francis Marion with 47 seconds left and after Briana Burgins' offensive board on the second attempt, Chandler knocked down a three-pointer to pull the Patriots within 62-55. Another UMO turnover led to Stephanie Brown's layup with 29 seconds remaining.
Brown missed a chance for a three-point play, but Chandler pulled down the offensive rebound and followed with 1-of-2 free throws to cut Mount Olive's lead to 62-58 with 27 seconds left. Wallace hit the second of two free throws for the Trojans, but Brown answered with a second-chance layup to make it a one-possession game with 4.9 seconds remaining.
Buie drew a foul in the backcourt and calmly hit her first attempt to give Mount Olive another two-possession lead. She missed the second attempt, but a desperation shot by Francis Marion was off the mark as the Trojans held on.
In the first half, Griffin scored in threes to help Mount Olive rally from an early six-point deficit. After hitting a three-pointer for the Trojans' first points and converting a three-point play, Griffin gave Mount Olive its first lead at 14-13 with a three-pointer with 11:32 left before halftime.
"I just wanted to be aggressive," Griffin said of her fast start.
Tommarah Harris followed with her first three-pointer of the night, but Francis Marion regained the lead on an 8-0 run, capped by Burgins' steal and layup. Wallace ended the run with a three-point play and added a short jumper to put Mount Olive back on top for the rest of the half. Harris' three-pointer closed out a 10-0 run and gave the Trojans a 27-21 lead with 6:24 remaining.
Francis Marion got as close as two points, but Harris hit her third three-pointer of the half with 42 seconds left to give Mount Olive a 33-27 halftime lead. Griffin (nine points), Harris (nine points) and Wallace (eight points) accounted for 26 of the Trojans' 33 first-half points.
Wallace finished with 14 points, while Harris established a career high with 12 points. Buie added 10 points and five assists. Wallace and Aerial Johnson each pulled down nine rebounds and Griffin added eight boards as the Trojans outrebounded the Patriots 45-38.
Chandler scored 13 of her game-high 19 points in the second half for Francis Marion. Burgins scored eight of her 10 points in the first half.
Mount Olive returns to action Tuesday as the Trojans travel to Elizabeth City, N.C., to take on Elizabeth City State in a non-conference contest. Tip-off is 5:30 p.m.