Tamara Nesmith scored 20 points and Jasmine McDonald recorded a double-double, but a potential game-winning three-pointer at the buzzer was just off the mark as Mount Olive fell to national poll vote-getter Pfeiffer 62-61 in Conference Carolinas women's basketball Wednesday at Misenheimer, N.C. McDonald finished with 15 points and 10 rebounds, and made two key plays in the final minute to give the Trojans a chance to win.
Mount Olive (10-3 overall, 6-3 Conference Carolinas) was seeking its second win this season against a team listed among vote-getters in the WBCA Division II Top 25. The Trojans defeated Fayetteville State in December.
The Trojans saw a 13-point lead disappear in the first half, then let an eight-point lead get away in the second half. Mount Olive trailed 62-59 with 1:06 left to play and appeared to be on its way to giving the ball back to Pfeiffer (10-2, 5-2) after a missed jumper. McDonald wrestled the rebound away from a Pfeiffer player underneath and after a Trojan timeout, hit a backdoor layup off a pass from Nesmith to pull the Trojans within a point with 49 seconds left.
Mount Olive forced a shot clock violation and got the ball with 18 seconds left, but a traveling call gave the Falcons the ball back with eight seconds remaining. The Trojans had to commit four fouls in three seconds before Pfeiffer was in the bonus. The Falcons missed the front end of a one-and-one, giving Mount Olive one last chance.
A downcourt pass was knocked out of bounds and the Trojans inbounded from in front of their bench with 1.3 seconds left. The inbounds pass went to Nesmith, who was open five feet behind the arc on the right wing. Her shot had a chance, but hit the top of the front right rim and caromed off as the buzzer sounded.
The Trojans broke away from a halftime tie as Joneiqua Gary's three-pointer and six straight points by Nesmith contributed to an 11-0 run that gave Mount Olive a 50-42 lead with 12:37 left in the contest. Pfeiffer then outscored Mount Olive 15-2 over the next seven minutes as Brittany Cox hit three of her six three-pointers during the run to put the Falcons back on top by three.
Mount Olive regained the lead on a layup by Alyssa Luebs and Gary's fourth three-pointer of the game with 4:37 remaining. After a basket by Cox for Pfeiffer, Luebs hit another layup to give Mount Olive a 59-57 lead with 4:04 left to play. But the Trojans would not score again until McDonald's layup in the final minute.
After Pfeiffer tied the game, Kellie Rhoney hit a three-pointer with 2:49 left to put the Falcons ahead to stay.
In the first half, Gary's three-pointer with 13:23 remaining broke a 9-9 tie and triggered a 9-0 Trojan run. Pfeiffer got as close as six points before another three by Gary started a 7-0 run and Tamara Nesmith's jumper with 6:50 left gave Mount Olive its biggest lead at 29-16. But that would be the Trojans' last field goal of the half.
Pfeiffer came back with 14 unanswered points as Cox ignited the run with back-to-back three-pointers Caressa Samuel put the Falcons on top with a pair of free throws with exactly one minute left before halftime. McDonald ended Mount Olive's scoring drought with a free throw with 41 seconds left and the two teams went into the locker room tied 30-30 at the half.
Mount Olive started the game 13-for-23 (56.5 percent) from the field, but missed its last 10 shot attempts of the half.
Gary finished with 12 points, all from beyond the arc. Nesmith was 10-for-17 from the field and added eight rebounds and six assists.
Cox led all players with 24 points for Pfeiffer, while Christina Harvey added 14 points and eight rebounds. Rhoney finished with 10 points.
The game saw eight ties and eight lead changes. The Trojans suffered the loss, despite never trailing by more than three points in the entire game.
Mount Olive plays the third of three consecutive road games Saturday as the Trojans travel to Due West, S.C., to take on Erskine in Conference Carolinas action. The Trojans defeated Erskine 79-49 in the two teams' first meeting December 1 at Kornegay Arena. Tip-off is 2 p.m., followed by the Trojan men's basketball game vs. Erskine.