BANNER ELK, N.C. -- Lees-McRae cut an 11-point deficit down to one in the final seven minutes and had a chance for the winning basket, but a missed shot on the final possession ended the rally as the Bobcats fell to Mount Olive 59-58 in Conference Carolinas women's basketball Saturday.
Collette Montgomery posted a double-double for Lees-McRae with game highs of 16 points and 11 rebounds. Laporsha Davis hit three three-pointers in the second half and led a balanced Mount Olive attack with 11 points.
Lauren Casey's basket with 52 seconds left pulled Lees-McRae (2-12 overall, 2-8 Conference Carolinas) within a point and a Mount Olive turnover gave the ball back to the Bobcats with 32 seconds remaining. Lees-McRae attempted the game-winning shot in the closing seconds, but the attempt was off the mark and Trojan forward Brittany Miller pulled down the rebound as Mount Olive held on for the win.
In the first half, Lees-McRae built an early 9-6 lead after Casey's basket with 14:32 remaining capped a 7-0 Bobcat run. But Mount Olive (7-8 overall, 6-4 Conference Carolinas) came back with 12 unanswered points, highlighted by three-pointers by Andrea Jones and Miller.
Jessica Blair's three-pointer with 8:27 remaining helped Lees-McRae get as close as six points. But Mount Olive built the lead to double digits and Davis' putback with 4:04 left gave the Trojans their biggest lead of the half at 28-15.
Lees-McRae went eight minutes without a field goal, but stayed in the game by connecting on 9-of-10 free throw attempts in the first half. Casey's basket with 23 seconds remaining - the Bobcats' first field goal since Blair's three-pointer - cut Mount Olive's lead to 30-23 at the half.
Mount Olive had 10 different players score in the first half, but the Trojans were held without a free throw attempt in the first half for the second consecutive game.
Lees-McRae got as close as three on Renee Roberson's three-pointer with 16:33 left in the game. But Davis triggered an 8-1 Mount Olive run with a three-pointer and Jones' three-pointer pushed the lead back to double figures at 42-32 with 12:18 remaining.
Lees-McRae cut the margin down to seven, but three-balls by Davis and Jones helped extend Mount Olive's lead to 52-41 with 7:07 left to play. The Bobcats then held the Trojans to a pair of free throws over the next four-plus minutes and Montgomery's basket with 2:53 remaining pulled Lees-McRae within 54-52.
Davis answered with a three-pointer on Mount Olive's next possession and after Montgomery knocked down a pair of free throws, Helen Moore's basket gave the Trojans a 59-54 lead with 1:52 remaining.
Those would be Mount Olive's last points as baskets by Montgomery and Casey brought Lees-McRae within a point. But the Trojans would make one final defensive stop in the closing seconds to seal the win.
Casey finished with 10 points, seven rebounds, six assists and four steals for Lees-McRae. The Bobcats outrebounded Mount Olive 40-34 and were 20-for-24 from the free throw line, compared to 4-for-5 for the Trojans.
Moore had 10 points for Mount Olive, while Jones and Miller added nine points apiece. Miller pulled down a team-high eight rebounds.
Lees-McRae will travel to Belmont Abbey Monday with tipoff set for 5:30 p.m.