Defense Sparks Trojans Past Erskine 66-42

Defense Sparks Trojans Past Erskine 66-42

Kirksten Mitchell and Tamara Nesmith scored 21 points apiece, while Jasmine McDonald sparked the defense with a career-high seven steals as Mount Olive defeated Erskine 66-42 in Conference Carolinas women's basketball Saturday at Due West, S.C. McDonald became the latest Trojan to flirt with a triple-double, adding 11 points and nine rebounds.

Mount Olive (11-3 overall, 7-3 Conference Carolinas) jumped out to a 7-0 lead in the first 77 seconds of the contest after Alexandra Silva's three-pointer and the Trojans led wire-to-wire. Erskine (0-14, 0-9) got as close as 10-6 on Jana Dixon's basket, but back-to-back field goals by Nesmith highlighted a 9-0 Trojan run and the margin stayed in double digits the remainder of the contest.

The lead surpassed the 20-point mark for the first time after back-to-back three-pointers by Mitchell gave the Trojans a 33-12 advantage with 6:30 left in the first half. Erskine rallied with nine unanswered points as Rosa Powell capped the run with a three-pointer and a pair of free throws to pull the Flying Fleet within 33-21 with 2:39 remaining.

Erskine almost had a chance to close the gap to single digits after a Trojan missed shot, but Mitchell pulled down the offensive rebound and followed with a pair of free throws. Mitchell scored six points in a 9-0 run to end the half to give Mount Olive a 42-21 halftime lead.

Mitchell and Nesmith each scored 14 points in the first half.

Erskine got as close as 18 points early in the second half as Haleigh Spaulding scored five points in the first 44 seconds. But Nesmith's basket with 16:59 left pushed Mount Olive's lead to 66-46 and margin never fell below 20 points.

Mount Olive took its biggest lead of the game at 63-32 on Mitchell's basket with 7:27 remaining.

McDonald's previous best was six steals last year against St. Andrews. McDonald finished the game 4-for-4 from the field and 3-for-4 from the free throw line. Nesmith, who leads the conference with 9.9 rebounds per game, pulled down 10 boards Saturday for her seventh double-double of the season. Nesmith came within one rebound of a triple-double December 30 against Brevard.

Alyssa Luebs pulled down eight rebounds and the six-foot forward led all players with four assists.

Tori Whittenberg led Erskine with 12 points and five steals, while Dixon finished with a game-high 12 rebounds.

Saturday's win gives Mount Olive a sweep of the season series. The Trojans defeated Erskine 79-49 December 1 at Kornegay Arena. Saturday's contest was the third of three consecutive away games for the Trojans.

Mount Olive begins a three-game homestand Thursday as the Trojans play host to Belmont Abbey in Conference Carolinas action. Mount Olive has won the last seven games in the series, including a 73-68 overtime victory at Belmont Abbey in last year's lone meeting. Tip-off is 5:30 p.m. at Kornegay Arena and will be followed by Trojan men's basketball vs. Belmont Abbey at 7:30 p.m.