Bobcats edge Trojans, 72-70, behind Munson double-double

BANNER ELK, N.C. --- Freshman Alyssa Munson (Summerfield, N.C.) recorded her first collegiate double-double, and four players scored in double figures to lead the Lees-McRae College women's basketball team to a hard-fought 72-70 victory over Mount Olive College in Conference Carolinas play on Saturday afternoon in Williams Gymnasium.

Lees-McRae (3-5, 1-4 CC) shot 45.8 percent from the floor in the contest, including an even 50 percent in the first half, while holding Mount Olive (8-2, 4-2 CC) to a field goal percentage of 40.4 percent on the afternoon. The Trojans won the battle on the glass by a 39-33 margin, including a 13-9 advantage on the offensive boards, while converting 21 Bobcat miscues into 25 points.

Layana de Souza (Rio de Janeiro, Brazil) paced the Bobcats with 15 points and five assists, as Munson added a double-double with 12 markers, 11 rebounds, and a game-high four blocks. Kabrina Truesdale (Wilmington, N.C.) added 12 points and five assists, while Lauren Lewis (Concord, N.C.) chipped in 11 markers. Kerri Belcher (Roanoke, Va.) also posted eight points, four rebounds, and a team-high three steals for the Bobcats.

Tamara Nesmith led the way for Mount Olive with a double-double, posting game-highs of 25 points and 12 rebounds to go along with a contest-best six steals. Kirksten Mitchell added 17 points, while Alyssa Luebs chipped in nine points, seven rebounds, and three blocks.

Mount Olive jumped out to an early 10-2 lead before the Bobcats responded, going on a 15-9 run to cut the lead to 19-17 with 10:11 remaining in the half following a put-back by Tayler Collins (Fayetteville, N.C.). After the Trojans countered with a 6-2 spurt to take a 25-19 advantage on a Nesmith jumper, Lees-McRae answered with a 21-7 surge over the final eight minutes of the period, heading into the intermission with a 40-32 lead following back-to-back three-pointers by Candace Flowers (Charlotte, N.C.).

The Trojans responded in the second half, opening the period with a 10-5 run to cut the lead to 45-42 following a three-point play by Nesmith with 14:32 left on the clock. After the Bobcats pushed the advantage back to 10 with a 7-0 spurt, Mount Olive answered with an 11-0 run to take its first lead of the second half on a lay-in by Luebs with 9:29 to play.

Lees-McRae would counter with a Belcher layup to reclaim the lead at 54-53 two minutes later, and after Joneiqua Gary gave the Trojans a 55-54 advantage with a pair of free throws, Truesdale knocked down a clutch three-pointer to put the Bobcats ahead, 57-55, with just over seven minutes to play.

The teams would trade scores over the next several minutes, with Mount Olive snatching a 65-63 lead on a Nesmith lay-in before Munson kicked it out to Lewis for an open three-pointer with 2:22 to go, giving the Bobcats a narrow 66-65 advantage. Nesmith answered with just under a minute left on the clock, converting a critical three-point play to give the Trojans a 70-68 lead on the heels of a 5-2 run.

De Souza countered 22 seconds later, evening the tally at 70-70 with an acrobatic layup before Belcher made perhaps the key play of the afternoon, forcing a Trojan turnover and converting a pair of late free throws to put the Bobcats ahead, 72-70 with eight ticks left on the clock. The Bobcats cemented the win seconds later, forcing another Trojan miscue to seal the victory.

Lees-McRae returns to the court on Tuesday when the Bobcats travel to Spartanburg, S.C. to take on Converse College in conference play at 5:30 p.m.

- LMC -