02/14/13 — Coker women withstand late MOC rally

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Coker women withstand late MOC rally

By Andrew Stevens
Published in Sports on February 14, 2013 1:47 PM

MOUNT OLIVE -- Opportunity knocked and knocked again for Mount Olive on Wednesday night.

The Trojans couldn't answer the door.

Mount Olive rallied late and had a look at a game-tying 3-pointer in the closing seconds of a 66-63 Conference Carolinas loss to Coker (S.C.) College inside Kornegay Arena. The loss was the Trojans' fifth in the last six games.

Cobras' forward Autumn Lau led all scorers with 27 points.

Kirksten Mitchell paced Mount Olive with 13 points. Tamara Nesmith and Jasmine McDonald each contributed 12 points. Joneiqua Gary had 11 points.

Coker scored 10 of the final 16 points of the opening half and led 33-29 at halftime. The first half featured three ties and three lead changes.

The Trojans shot just 39 percent from the floor during the opening 20 minutes, including 2 for 9 from 3-point range.

Mount Olive struggled throughout the game to find a defensive answer for Lau. The 5-foot-10 junior scored 12 first-half points and routinely took advantage of her size against smaller Trojans' defenders.

"I think their size was a factor," Mount Olive head coach Wendy Lee said. "There is not much you can do when you don't have a lot of size with some of their big, physical players. (Lau) hit some big shots."

The Cobras' lead grew to 40-33 early in the second half.

The Trojans closed to within a single point twice but could never take the lead. Mount Olive trailed 65-58 with 20 seconds left before Mitchell sank a 3-pointer and added a layup on a steal off the ensuing in-bounds pass.

Lau made one of two free throws with six seconds left to stretch the lead to 66-63. Mitchell had a look at a potential game-tying 3-pointer at the buzzer, but her shot was off the mark.

"I thought our team fought hard and to have a chance at the end of the game in that situation is what you want," Lee said. "Kirksten really did what we needed. She hit a big 3 and got a layup and that was an outstanding effort.

It was disappointing to not be able to close the door."

Mount Olive (13-8 overall, 9-8 CC) has lost five games by an average of five points during its recent slide. The Trojans visit King (Tenn.) College on Saturday.

"I think it's building a lot of character right now because we're losing by two possessions or one," Lee said. "We're losing to good teams so we know that. We won some close games early in the season and we're losing some close games now.

"I think all of that just hopefully helps us push through some adversity and get ready when its tournament time."