01/06/09 — Injuries, turnovers cost MOC women

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Injuries, turnovers cost MOC women

By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on January 6, 2009 1:50 PM

MOUNT OLIVE -- Coker just wouldn't go away.

And injury-plagued Mount Olive couldn't finish on offense.

The Trojan women succumbed to 21 second-half turnovers and the Cobras claimed a 57-55 victory in Conference Carolinas play Monday evening at Kornegay Arena. Coker earned its first victory on Mount Olive's homecourt since 2003 and snapped an eight-game losing streak in the series.

The Cobras denied MOC head coach Wendy Lee her 100th career win.

"Coker fought really hard and did play a solid game, but as a coach, you're always looking at what you didn't do well," said Lee. "What we didn't do well also attributed to their success tonight."

Mount Olive competed without three players -- Helen Moore, LaTara Wade and LaPorsha Davis. Moore suffered a severe lateral meniscus tear in her right knee against Limestone and will undergo surgery today. Wade and Davis are nursing a foot and ankle injury, respectively.

Despite playing short-handed, the Trojans' inability to execute against Coker's 1-2-1-1 fullcourt press puzzled Lee. Mount Olive committed just first six-half miscues, but had 12 during an eight-minute stretch to start the second half.

Coker converted the second-half miscues into 21 points and finished with 25 points total off 27 Mount Olive turnovers.

"We haven't identified why we didn't handle the pressure better and we had our experienced players on the floor who have seen presses like that," said Lee. "It was something we just didn't handle very well."

The Trojans couldn't keep the lead, either.

Jasmine Whitby's open-court layup off Brittney Robich's assist gave Mount Olive its biggest lead, 36-28, just four minutes into the second half. Whitby posted a team-high 20 points, but got little offensive support.

Brittany Miller contributed a double-double -- 12 points and 10 rebounds. However, the backcourt of Robich, Tomeka Prichard and Shequanta McGee combined to shoot 6-for-32 from the floor.

"On the perimeter, we had very little offensive contribution and it's difficult to win a game like that," said Lee. "We got a lot of open looks at the basket and didn't knock them. It was the people we wanted shooting the ball on the perimeter, but they just couldn't score tonight."

Coker (2-6 overall, 1-2 CC) tied the game at 38-38 on Lotta Aaltonen's offensive putback. The Cobras didn't allow the Trojans to gain more than a two-possession lead and pulled within 49-48 on Heidi Renstra's layup with 5:52 left in regulation.

Mount Olive (6-3, 2-2) benefited from Coker misfiring on eight straight possessions to take the lead. Alisa Jones' layup off Robich's assist extended the Trojans' slim advantage to 51-48. Three possessions later, Aaltonen knocked down two of her game-high 24 points to forge a 53-53 tie.

Aaltonen hit all eight of her field goals in the second half.

"We knew she was a good scorer," said Lee of Aaltonen. "A couple of different people had assignments to deny her the ball, but she wanted it more than we could deny it to her. But I don't think that's a difference in the game because our defense wasn't an issue."

Offensive futility was the deciding factor. The Trojans managed just five field goals in the final 10 minutes and allowed the Cobras to capture their first league win of the season.