11/18/12 — Trojans roll past Converse

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Trojans roll past Converse

By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on November 18, 2012 1:52 AM

MOUNT OLIVE -- Mount Olive proved defense wins ballgames.

But the Trojan women grew up a little bit, too, Saturday afternoon.

Tamara Nesmith led four players in double figures with 21 points in an 87-34 thrashing of Converse (S.C.) College in the Conference Carolinas opener for both teams inside Kornegay Arena.

Kirksten Mitchell added 18 points and JUCO transfer Alexandra Silva flirted with a triple-double -- 16 points, eight steals and six assists in 27 minutes of action. Jasmine McDonald knocked down 11 points for MOC, which has won all nine meetings against Converse.

"The overall team effort and intensity level of the group (were) positive things for us (today)," 12th-year Trojans head coach Wendy Lee said. "We showed areas of growth in our transition game, and I thought our defensive pressure on and off the ball was better today.

"We're looking for little places of growth, which is how we evaluate every game, really."

And signs of maturity.

The Trojans continue to play without returning starters Andrea Jones and Joneiqua Gary, and freshman Anamaria Zjacic. Each suffered a preseason injury and their respective status remains uncertain heading into Monday's home contest against league foe North Greenville.

Missing that experience has forced MOC to develop depth and look for offense in other ways until the trio works it way back into the playing rotation. Nine Trojans scratched in the scoring column against Converse and each player logged seven or more minutes in the game.

MOC secured a 9-0 lead barely three minutes into the game and held a two-possession advantage when the first media timeout occurred. During the break, Lee stressed to her team the importance of playing intense defense and her plea didn't fall on deaf ears.

The Trojans responded with a 19-3 run that all but sank the Valkyries' hopes of claiming their first-ever win in the series.

McDonald started the run with two free throws. Mitchell converted an old-fashioned three-point play and buried two 3-pointers in MOC's half-court offense to break open the game.

Silva's layup and steal, and Ty Wallace's two free throws capped the surge. The Trojans led 28-7 before Converse stopped the back-breaking surge with a layup off of a turnover.

"At the beginning, we weren't pressuring as much but coach let us know in the huddle that defense wins games," Silva said. "So, that's what we had to do. If the starters play good defense, then we can get the bench going and when they come into the game, they play good defense.

"Once we got over the first home game jitters, we picked it up."

MOC coaxed Converse into 37 turnovers and collected 22 steals.

The Trojans shot nearly 50 percent from the floor for the game and won the defensive glass battle, 28-24. Senior forward Alyssa Luebs emerged MOC's top rebounder with 10 boards.