11/17/11 — MOC downs Virginia State

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MOC downs Virginia State

By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on November 17, 2011 1:48 PM

MOUNT OLIVE -- Shots bounced off the rim.

Long rebounds wound up in the opponents' hands.

But two defensive stops came at a perfect time.

Destinee Webb's open-court layup off a turnover and Alyssa Luebs' old-fashioned three-point play highlighted a late first-half run, and pushed Mount Olive College past Virginia State, 69-52, inside Kornegay Arena on Wednesday evening.

It was the Trojans' home opener.

Mount Olive (1-1 overall) carved out an early eight-point lead on consecutive 3-pointers by Andrea Jones, but endured more than a five-minute scoring drought in the opening half. Missed chances in the paint and short-range jumpers didn't find the mark, which allowed Virginia State (1-2) to stay within striking distance.

Luebs' offensive putback and subsequent free throw gave MOC a 26-14 lead with 94 seconds left before halftime. Head coach Wendy Lee whistled and asked for two defensive stops.

The team responded.

JUCO transfer Tamara Nesmith, who pumped in 17 points in her home debut, and Webb converted consecutive turnovers into quick baskets. Mount Olive entered halftime with a 35-16 advantage.

"We created a lot of pressure on defense and let our offense build off our defense," said Lee. "When we can do that, it not only builds confidence in our defense but is something that is deflating to the other team. They're feeling like they can't get in synch and I thought it was disruptive to what they were trying to do."

Mount Olive held VSU, which is picked to win the CIAA North Division this season, to 23-percent shooting in the opening half and 31 percent for the game. Lee's team forced 12 first-half turnovers and dominated the boards, 23-14.

The Trojans quickly boosted their advantage to 40-12 less than two minutes into the second half.

"(The run) was very important," said Nesmith. "If we're up before halftime, we have that momentum going and when we come out of the locker room, we're ready to play. The crowd supported us and as a team, we're more comfortable when we're at home."

Virginia State attacked Mount Olive's zone in the second half and pulled down 26 points. Yashica Blackney's 3-pointer off a screen closed the gap to 50-37 around the 12-minute mark, but the visitors could get no closer.

Webb's steal and backwards pass to Jasmine McDonald while lying on the floor ignited a decisive spurt, that ironically, ended on McDonald's 3-pointer off another Webb assist. McDonald collected 15 points, while Webb handed out a game-high seven assists.

"They beat us in the second half and they're capable of beating us two halves," said Lee. "We just took them out of their game plan with our defense. I hope we are mature enough to learn from a victory and avoid having to learn from a loss down the road.

"They were really physical and we didn't respond well to that. Those are things we have to learn so it does not cost us down the road."