MOC women knocked into three-way tie atop CVAC
By Gabe Whisnant
Published in Sports on January 18, 2005 1:55 PM
MOUNT OLIVE - Holding opponents to 55.8 points per contest, Mount Olive's women's basketball team is usually in position for a big win when it puts up 69 points.
An undersized, but effective Belmont Abbey had other ideas.
The Crusaders, averaging over 80 points per game, had five players with eight or more and claimed a 78-69 win at College Hall in Monday's Carolinas-Virginia Athletic Conference action.
The loss creates a three-way tie at the top of the standings as the Trojans (8-5 overall), Crusaders and Anderson all have identical, 6-1 marks. Mount Olive travels to nationally 11th-ranked Anderson (14-2) on Saturday.
The Trojans limited Belmont Abbey (10-4) from behind the 3-point line as the Crusaders made just 1-of-9. Despite giving away several inches at most positions, Belmont Abbey dominated the points in the paint margin 52-18.
"The girls talked about learning from this. Anderson is another transition team, and they get points in the paint as well," Mount Olive coach Wendy Lawrence said. "We put ourselves in position to win, but we missed some key shots down the stretch."
Jervorah Whitfield and Nicole Woods paced the Crusaders with 24 and 18 points, respectively. Woods just missed a triple-double, adding nine points and nine rebounds. Whitfield contributed six steals.
"We've got a couple of seniors out there. No. 15 (Whitfield) being one of them, and she played phenomenal," Belmont Abbey coach Missy Tiber said. "I told her at halftime, 'make sure we win this game.'
"She took over when she had to."
Mount Olive never trailed by more than seven in the first half and tied the game at 37-37 going into intermission on a layup by Latoria Harvey from Ladora Charles. The senior duo combined for 55 points on the night.
Charles, who had 23 points, nailed one of her five 3-pointers, followed by back-to-back baskets down low by Harvey (22 points) after the break -- pushing the Trojans out to a 43-39 advantage at the 14:34 mark
From there, the Crusaders' Woods and Debra Wilcox helped their team counter the run to take the lead for good. Woods dropped in nine points, while Wilcox contributed eight of her ten as Belmont Abbey eventually charged ahead 62-53 with 8:21 left.
Mount Olive never allowed the Crusaders to pull away -- closing the margin to three points twice -- the last coming after a three by Charles made it 72-69 with under two minutes remaining.
Woods quickly answered with a pull-up jumper as Belmont scored six unanswered to close the game.
"They average 86 points per game, so we held them under their average," Lawrence said. "We played good defensively in spurts, but they did a real good job in transition and had the ability to find open people when they penetrated."
The Trojans narrowly won the turnover battle, creating 23 and committing 22, but the Crusaders picked up 13 steals and converted a handful into easy baskets on the other end. In the first half especially, Belmont Abbey quickly countered off of steals and made baskets to score in transition at the other end.
"Eventhough we shot 52 percent in the first half, we weren't making good decisions," Tiber said. "They get up on you defensively and kept us from hitting threes, which we are known to usually get a bunch of."
The Trojans never led in the first half, but kept their opposition within striking distance after climbing back from an early 10-4 deficit. Melanie Cobb had a couple of key jumpers, while Charles and Harvey sparked a 9-3 run near the end of the half with 13 and 10 points, respectively.
Notes: Harvey added a game-high 13 rebounds. Teammate Teneal Boone grabbed nine. Charles also dished out six assists. Melanie Cobb added 11 points for MOC. The Trojans outrebounded Belmont Abbey 36-29, including 21 offensive boards, marking the 10th time in 12 games Mount Olive has outrebounded an opponent. The Crusaders were a solid, 15-16 from the foul line, including nine-for-nine in the second half. Mount Olive shot 10-20 from the stripe.
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