12/13/11 — MOC knocks off St. Aug's women

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MOC knocks off St. Aug's women

By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on December 13, 2011 1:48 PM

MOUNT OLIVE -- The youth is maturing.

And no one player is stealing the spotlight.

Joneiqua Gary's 3-pointer in the final two minutes broke a tie and helped spark Mount Olive College to a 73-69, non-conference triumph over in-state rival St. Augustine's inside Kornegay Arena on Monday evening.

"An ugly win. I'll take it any day," said Trojans head coach Wendy Lee. "As a head coach, I really like how we grinded it out. We knew we weren't hitting shots early and weren't in synch because we had been off for so many days, but we never looked discouraged.

"We never looked extremely frustrated, we just pushed through it and pulled together more (as a team) and it showed up on the defensive end."

The Trojans (4-2 overall) got quality defensive stops from Alyssa Luebs and Jasmine McDonald in the closing minutes. Luebs came up with a key steal, and then forced a missed shot when the Falcons had a two-on-one break on a later possession.

McDonald, who eventually fouled out, blocked a shot in the final half minute to help seal the Trojans' fourth win over the Falcons in nine meetings since 1995.

Mount Olive prevented St. Augustine's (4-3) from getting second-chance opportunities. The Falcons average 24 offensive rebounds a game, but managed just 13 against the Trojans.

"We really talked hard about that," said Lee. "To me, I think we really grew up tonight, be it an ugly game. I think we grew closer, played a physical team hard on the boards and I think it was the type of win we needed at this stage in the season."

The Falcons led 57-51 with 8:58 remaining in the game.

Shanice Pringle and Andrea Jones, who led all scorers with 24 points, each sank one free throw to jump start a 14-4 run. Jones drained a pull-up jumper in transition on her next touch, and Luebs converted an old-fashioned three-point play off Gary's assist to pull MOC within 59-58.

Tamara Nesmith's layup from Leubs and McDonald's three-point play put the Trojans ahead 63-61 with 5:06 left in regulation. Jones capped the decisive surge with two free throws.

"The refs were calling petty fouls on both ends, was even for most of the game," said Jones, who converted 8 of 9 free throws for the game. "I told Destinee (Webb) that we needed to be aggressive and drive (to the basket). That's what I started doing to get to the foul line."

"I wanted to motivate the team, let them know we can do this."

Sophomore Umeka Benson's steal and layup tied the game at 65-65.

Nesmith cleared the offensive boards on the Trojans' next possession and kicked the ball out to Gary, who swished a step-back 3-pointer. Luebs forced a jump ball on the Falcons' next trip down the court, and McDonald buried a layup to make it 70-65.

"The last four minutes we came together as a team," said Webb. "We kept our heads and bought into what coach was doing subbing in and out (due to foul trouble), and everybody just played together.

"I think it's a big win. We're taking it a day at a time and getting closer as a team."