Arieal Johnson tallied 18 points and 16 rebounds, and Rachel Fehl and Tommarah Harris combined to hit 4-of-4 free throws in the final 15 seconds to seal University of Mount Olive's 59-57 victory over King University in Conference Carolinas women's basketball Friday at Kornegay Arena. The Trojans were only 2-of-8 from the line as a team before Fehl's and Harris's free throws.
Mount Olive (7-11 overall, 5-7 Conference Carolinas) overcame a pair of first-half scoring droughts and a six-point halftime deficit as Ty Wallace's 16-foot jumper from the left wing put the Trojans ahead to stay 52-51 with 4:44 left to play. Fehl followed with a 25-foot three-pointer from the right wing to extend the Trojans' lead to four.
King (13-5, 8-4) ended a three-minute scoring drought when Whitney Mitchell drained a three-pointer to make it a one-point game with 1:54 remaining. The Tornado stopped Mount Olive on the Trojans' next three possessions, but were unable to capitalize. After King missed two offensive putbacks, Wallace pulled down the rebound for Mount Olive. Fehl drew a foul with 15 seconds remaining and the left-hander sank both free throws on her first trip to the line to extend the Trojans' lead to 57-54.
King had an open look on a three-pointer from the top of the key with nine seconds left, but the shot missed the mark. Wallace grabbed another rebound and Harris made it a two-possession game with a pair of free throws with four seconds left, also on her first trip to the line. Mitchell hit a three at the buzzer for the final score.
After going scoreless for the final four minutes of the first half, Mount Olive converted on five of its first six possessions of the second half. Fehl and Ni'Ya Styles both hit three-pointers and Johnson scored six straight points to give the Trojans a 41-38 lead with 13:14 left to play. The next nine minutes saw five lead changes and three ties before Mount Olive took the lead for good.
In the first half, Mount Olive went more than seven minutes without a field goal as King built a 19-14 lead on Amy Van Deventer's 15-foot jumper with 6:39 remaining. Gabby Griffin came in off the bench for Mount Olive and found Johnson underneath for a layup on an inbounds pass to end the Trojans' drought.
Fehl tied the game with a three-pointer, then put the Trojans on top with a steal at midcourt and a 360 move on a layup. Johnson's putback with 4:07 left before halftime completed a 9-0 run and gave Mount Olive its biggest lead of the half at 23-19. But the Trojans would not score again the remainder of the half.
King scored the final 10 points of the half, starting with Chelsea Bowling's three-pointer with 1:38 left to end a five-minute scoreless stretch for the Tornado. Jalan Harper's steal led to a three-point play with 2.5 seconds left as King took a 29-23 lead over the Trojans into the locker room.
Fehl finished with a career-high 13 points, while Wallace added 11 points and nine rebounds to help the Trojans outrebound the Tornado 45-33. Johnson also had five assists and five blocked shots to go with her eighth double-double of the season and fifth in a row.
In the first meeting at King, Mount Olive trailed by as many as 21 points before falling 69-61. Fehl gave much of the credit to Johnson for Friday's win.
"We've grown a lot as a team and we play better as a team now," said Fehl, a freshman from Chesterfield, Va. "(Arieal) holds the team together. All those extra possessions are why we win. We didn't have her last time when we played King and that was the difference."
Bowling hit five three-pointers for King and led the Tornado with 17 points. Mitchell and Van Deventer added 10 points apiece.
Mount Olive concludes its weekend homestand Saturday as the Trojans play host to Lees-McRae in a Conference Carolinas match-up. Mount Olive rallied for a 56-53 victory in the two teams' first meeting January 4 at Lees-McRae. Tip-off is 2 p.m. at Kornegay Arena.