Arieal Johnson's basket with 44 seconds put University of Mount Olive ahead to stay and the Trojans benefited from a lane violation in the final seconds to hold off Lees-McRae 56-53 in Conference Carolinas women's basketball Sunday at Banner Elk, N.C. Johnson recorded a double-double with 21 points and a career-high 18 rebounds. Ty Wallace added her second double-double in as many days with 15 points and 14 rebounds.
Mount Olive (4-8 overall, 2-4 Conference Carolinas) overcame a seven-point deficit in the first half to take a one-point halftime lead, then overcame a five-point deficit midway through the second half. The Trojans trailed 48-46 after Niroska Perez hit a three-pointer for Lees-McRae with 3:21 left to play. Johnson tied the game with a basket on Mount Olive's next possession and put the Trojans ahead 50-48 with a pair of free throws with 2:27 left.
Perez knocked down a pair of free throws for Lees-McRae to tie the game and the Bobcats had a chance to go back on top after a Trojan turnover. But Johnson pulled down a defensive rebound and scored on the other end to give Mount Olive a 52-50 lead with 1:22 remaining. After Lees-McRae tied the game again on Tayler Collins' basket, Johnson hit a jumper on Mount Olive's next possession to put the Trojans back on top 54-52.
Mount Olive stopped Lees-McRae defensively, but missed the front end of two one-and-one's to keep the Bobcats in the game. Kabrina Truesdale hit the first of two free throws to pull Lees-McRae within a point with seven seconds left, then hit what appeared to be the tying free throw, but it was waived off due to a lane violation.
Shy'lia Buie was fouled immediately and hit both free throws to force Lees-McRae to go for a three-pointer. The Bobcats were unable to get a final shot off.
In the first half, Mount Olive jumped out to an 8-2 lead after a steal and layup by Anamaria Zjacic with 17:31 remaining. Lees-McRae scored the next six points to tie the game and Truesdale's jumper with 12:12 left completed a 15-2 run to give the Bobcats their biggest lead of the half at 17-10.
Mount Olive came back with eight unanswered points as Johnson's 10-footer put the Trojans back on top with 7:54 left before halftime. The lead changed hands four times before baskets by Johnson on back-to-back possessions gave Mount Olive the lead for the final three minutes of the half. Perez hit a three-pointer for Lees-McRae with 61 seconds left to cut the Trojans' lead to 27-26 at intermission.
Ty Wallace pulled down 10 rebounds in the first half and Johnson added eight boards as the Trojans outrebounded the Bobcats 28-15 in the first half. Mount Olive went on to outrebound Lees-McRae 53-33 for the game.
The first 10-plus minutes of the second half saw four lead changes and five ties. Turnovers by Mount Olive on four consecutive possessions allowed Lees-McRae to take a 44-39 lead with 8:16 left to play. Wallace scored the final four points of a 6-0 run to put the Trojans back on top.
Gabby Griffin added 10 points and five rebounds for Mount Olive. Griffin (5-of-8), Johnson (8-of-12) and Wallace (7-of-14) combined to shoot 58.8 percent from the field.
Perez led four Bobcats in double figures with 14 points.
Mount Olive plays its first home game in nearly a month Wednesday as the Trojans play host to Southern Wesleyan in Conference Carolinas action. Tip-off is 5:30 p.m.