Joneiqua Gary scored a career-high 32 points and Jasmine McDonald became the third player in Trojan women's basketball history to record a triple-double as Mount Olive withstood a series of comebacks and extended its winning streak to four with a 91-83 victory over Virginia Union in non-conference women's basketball Sunday at Kornegay Arena. McDonald finished with 16 points, 12 rebounds and 11 assists, while Gary became the first Trojan women's basketball player in nearly five years to reach the 30-point mark.
Mount Olive (5-2) led by as many as 17 points in the second half and appeared to have the game in hand after Gary's three-pointer - her 29th point - gave the Trojans an 80-64 lead with 5:02 remaining. But Mount Olive committed four turnovers and was held without a field goal for more than three minutes as Ashle Freeman's three-point play off of Denesha Tatum's steal pulled Virginia Union within 82-75 with exactly two minutes left.
On Mount Olive's next possession, McDonald and Gary not only ended the Trojans' field goal drought, but also made school history. McDonald passed from the right wing to Gary, who drove the lane, scored off the glass and drew a foul for a three-point play to push the margin back to double-digits.
McDonald, who came within three assists of a triple-double four nights ago against Pfeiffer, had 14 points, 11 rebounds and nine assists before Gary's basket gave her the triple-double. McDonald says she was unaware of her statistics.
"I had no idea (about the triple-double), but one of my teammates said something and a couple fans mentioned something," said McDonald, a 5-7 senior guard from Lorton, Va.
Even after coming so close in her previous game, McDonald says a triple-double was never on her mind Sunday.
"I never think about statistics," said McDonald. "I just want to win and do what I can to help us win."
Gary, who ranks fifth in the nation in three-point field goals per game, says she feels the same way about her statistics.
"I just always come out with the mentality to help the team win and be the best teammate I can be," said Gary, a 5-7 senior guard from Norfolk, Va. "I never noticed I was ranked until family members mentioned it."
Even if Gary and McDonald wanted to celebrate their milestone, Virginia Union (2-5) wouldn't let them as the Panthers made one last run.
Melyse Brown hit a pair of free throws and finished a ShaHadah Barret steal with a layup to pull Virginia Union within 87-83 with 30 seconds left. But Kirksten Mitchell answered for Mount Olive, driving the left baseline for a layup with 14 seconds left. McDonald had the assist on Mitchell's layup and completed her stat sheet with a defensive rebound and a pair of free throws with two seconds left to seal the win.
In the first half, Mount Olive used a pair of runs to break away from a one-point lead. Katie Paschal's three-point play highlighted a 7-0 run to give the Trojans an 18-10 lead with 13:11 left before halftime. After Virginia Union cut the lead in half, Shy'lia Buie keyed a 16-6 run with the first of her two 3-pointers and Leah Graham's layup with 8:21 remaining gave Mount Olive its biggest lead of the half at 34-20.
Virginia Union used a pair of Freeman three-pointers to get back into the game as the Panthers pulled within 35-29 with 4:44 left. McDonald answered with a three for Mount Olive and the margin never fell below five points the remainder of the half. Buie hit a three-pointer from the left corner with the shot clock running down with 2:28 left and Mitchell's three-point play with 4.7 seconds left gave the Trojans a 46-35 lead at the half.
Virginia Union scored the first seven points of the second half and got as close as three points. With Mount Olive leading 59-54, Virginia Union had a chance to cut the margin back down to three after a steal by Barret, who appeared on her way to an uncontested layup.
Paschal chased down Barret to block the ball from behind and Mount Olive survived four second-chance shot attempts. Paschal then kept the Trojans' ensuing possession alive with an offensive rebound and McDonald sank a pair of free throws with 10:32 left to give Mount Olive a 61-54 lead. McDonald's free throws began an 18-6 run as Mitchell's three-pointer with 5:48 remaining gave Mount Olive its biggest lead of the game at 77-60.
McDonald joins Stephanie McCovery (February 19, 1996, vs. Belmont Abbey) and Helen Moore (Feb. 20, 2010 vs. Lees-McRae) on the Trojan women's basketball triple-double list. Gary scored the most points in a game since Jasmine Whitby's 32-point and 20-rebound performance January 24, 2009, against Erskine.
Gary finished 13-for-20 from the field and matched her season average with four 3-pointers. Mitchell scored 14 points off the bench, while Paschal finished with 11 points. Buie finished with nine points to go with four rebounds and four assists. Mount Olive shot a season-high 55.9 percent (33-for-59) from the field.
Brown scored 20 of her team-high 26 points in the second half for Virginia Union, while Freeman added 25 points and a game-high six steals. Barret dished out eight assists and recorded four steals.
Sunday's contest was the finale of a five-game homestand for Mount Olive. The Trojans' next home game is not until after the first of the year.
Mount Olive is idle all this week, then heads to Winter Park, Fla., December 16-17 for the Rollins College Women's Basketball Holiday Classic. The Trojans take on Bluefield State (W. Va.) December 16 at 4 p.m., then face tournament host and nationally 16th-ranked Rollins December 17 at 2 p.m.