12/17/11 — Virginia Union upend MOC women

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Virginia Union upend MOC women

By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on December 17, 2011 11:18 PM

MOUNT OLIVE -- A strong start.

A disappointing outcome.

A lesson learned.

A chance for younger players to mature.

Junior forward Alyssa Luebs just missed a double-double with 17 points and nine rebounds, but Mount Olive College endured a 79-71, non-conference loss to Virginia Union inside Kornegay Arena on Saturday afternoon.

It was the Trojans' third defeat of the season.

And neither Luebs nor 12th-year head coach Wendy Lee minced words about the team's effort. Lee said that Virginia Union had the better work ethic in nearly every facet of the game and that MOC didn't match its opponent's physicality.

Luebs added the Trojans (4-3 overall) played in spurts, showed complacency on their offensive possessions and struggled keep the Panthers off the boards.

"We played in spurts and that hurt us tonight," said Luebs. "We played good, then we slacked off and then we played good (again). We have to have a game where we play 40 minutes ... play hard the whole time.

"Our confidence went down and then we went down."

Luebs powered Mount Olive to a 14-6 lead in the opening five minutes. The Havelock native hit four of her first five shots from the floor, snared two rebounds and picked the Panthers for two steals.

Virginia Union (3-5) carved into the deficit and took its first lead, 16-15, on Ashle Freeman's layup with 11:30 left before halftime. The lead changed hands four more times until the Panthers reeled off a back-breaking 16-4 run.

MOC committed careless turnovers and surrendered costly offensive rebounds. The Panthers owned a 20-10 edge in points off turnovers, a 10-5 advantage in second-chance points and outscored the Trojans' bench, 19-3 in the opening half.

"They were out-hustling us and rebounding," said Luebs. "We were doing that too, but not all the time like they were. They wanted it."

Vickie Collier's layup off a turnover pushed Virginia Union's lead to 40-26 early in the second half. Mount Olive twice climbed two within two possessions on Tamara Nesmith's offensive putback at 50-46 and Joneiqua Gary's 3-pointer off Jasmine McDonald's assist at 55-51.

However, the Trojans never got closer.

Two baskets from Collier, Freeman's steal and layup and Shahadah Barret's steal and layup pushed the Panthers comfortably in front, 70-54, with just over four minutes left in the game.

Mount Olive pulled within 77-71, but misfired on seven consecutive offensive possessions in less than a two-minute stretch.

"Today was not a great game for us, but it's a game we can still learn from," said Lee. "It comes at a time of the year where we can really focus on why we lost this game. It wasn't all them doing great things. We hurt ourselves.

"We got concerned about shots we were missing instead of finding other ways to score. It really wasn't our best night tonight. I think we'll learn from it."