02/09/12 — Trojan women wake up in 2nd half against Pfeiffer

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Trojan women wake up in 2nd half against Pfeiffer

By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on February 9, 2012 1:48 PM

MOUNT OLIVE -- A tale of two halves.

And what a second half Tamara Nesmith had Wednesday evening.

The JUCO transfer knocked down 12 of her game-high 20 points and finished with a double-double as Mount Olive turned back in-state Conference Carolinas nemesis Pfeiffer University, 73-60, inside Kornegay Arena.

The Trojan women (16-5 overall, 10-2 CC) seized sole possession of the East Division lead after Coker handed Barton a double-digit upset loss. MOC claimed its second consecutive regular-season sweep of Pfeiffer and fifth straight win in the series, which started in the late 1980s.

"The second half was a much-better effort ... the first 10-12 minutes was some of our best basketball, we played really hard," said Trojan women's head coach Wendy Lee. "I think a lot of that was attributed to Tam's offensive rebounding. She had some good putbacks that really gave us a good push offensively.

"Our team defense got us stops that we needed and I think that gave us confidence, too."

Pfeiffer tested MOC's defense in the opening half.

The Falcons, who played with either four or five guards on the floor, entered the game ranked third nationally in 3-pointers (8.7 per outing). They extended the Trojans' defense on the perimeter and nailed seven triples that kept the contest close during the first 20 minutes.

Brittany Cox, the conference's top scorer, emerged one of three Pfeiffer players to hit at two 3-pointers in the opening half.

"It's hard to defend that. Period," said Lee. "Any one mistake ... anybody helps double team, a shooter is open. Anybody gets beat on the ball, somebody's open. I can't really fault our team for all the open shots they got in the first half.

"Some of it was just good offense."

But MOC players realized they were a step slow and didn't rotate at times to get a hand in the shooter's face. They discussed their disappointment at halftime and said they needed to defend the 3 better.

Kirksten Mitchell, who missed the game with an injury, pulled Nesmith aside and said to "take it to them and drive to the bucket."

Nesmith followed her teammate's advice. The Falcons had no answer for the 6-foot junior, who used her height and body to her advantage in the second half. Nesmith pulled down 10 second-half rebounds and scored on five of seven Trojan possessions during a five-minute stretch that sparked a back-breaking, 33-14 run.

"The last game, I didn't do too well with rebounding," said Nesmith.

Pfeiffer climbed to within 69-60, but Nesmith's offensive putback in the closing minute squelched any chance of a comeback.

"I just had a flashback of the North Greenville loss," said Nesmith. "We weren't about to let this team come back and beat us like our last game (at home)."