Arieal Johnson and Tommarah Harris both recorded career highs and combined for more than two-thirds of University of Mount Olive's points as the Trojans defeated Erskine 70-64 in Conference Carolinas women's basketball Saturday at Due West, S.C. Johnson finished with 26 points, while Harris added 21 points, including a pair of late free throws to seal the win. The victory was the Trojans' fifth in their last seven games.
Mount Olive (9-12 overall, 7-8 Conference Carolinas) broke away from a tie game late in the first half and led by as many as 12 points in the second half. The Trojans still had a double-digit lead at 66-56 with 1:20 left in the contest when Erskine (11-10, 9-6) made a late rally.
After Erskine hit a pair of free throws, Anamaria Zjacic hit 1-of-2 from the line for Mount Olive with 1:08 remaining. Erskine then capitalized on Trojan turnovers as Andrienne Bannerman and Ashley Espinosa both hit jumpers to pull the Flying Fleet within 67-62 with 32 seconds remaining.
Ni'Ya Styles hit 1-of-2 free throws for Mount Olive, but Erskine pulled down three offensive rebounds on its next possession before Tametra Willis' jumper with eight seconds left cut the lead to 68-64. Harris was fouled with four seconds left and hit both free throws to secure the victory and eclipse the 20-point mark for the first time in the freshman's career.
The first half saw eight ties and eight lead changes before Jakara White sank two free throws with 2:02 remaining to break a 23-23 tie and put Mount Olive ahead for good. Leah Graham added a pair of baskets in the final 75 seconds of the half and the Trojans went into the locker room with a 29-24 halftime lead.
Johnson scored nine of Mount Olive's first 10 points of the second half as the Trojans extended their lead to 39-32 with 13:27 left to play. Erskine got as close as 43-40, but Johnson scored six straight Trojan points and Harris capped a 12-3 run with back-to-back three pointers as Mount Olive took its biggest lead at 55-43 with 5:25 left. The Trojans maintained at least a two-possession lead for the remainder of the contest.
Johnson, who was 9-for-11 from the field, pulled down 13 rebounds for her 10th double-double of the season. She also matched her own school record with six blocked shots.
Espinosa led Erskine with 17 points.
Mount Olive returns to action Wednesday as the Trojans play host to Barton in a Conference Carolinas match-up. Mount Olive swept last year's regular season series and defeated the Bulldogs in the semifinal round of the 2014 Conference Carolinas Tournament. Tip-off is 5:30 p.m. at Kornegay Arena.