MOUNT OLIVE, N.C. – Jasmine Whitby scored 20 points and Brittany Miller recorded her first collegiate double-double, but turnovers plagued Mount Olive in the second half as the Trojans fell to Coker 57-55 in Conference Carolinas women’s basketball Monday at Kornegay Arena. The Trojans committed 21 of their 27 turnovers in the second half.
Lotta Aaltonen scored 19 of her game-high 24 points in the second half for Coker, which defeated Mount Olive for the first time since February 29, 2004. The Trojans had won the previous eight meetings prior to Monday.
Mount Olive (6-3 overall, 2-2 Conference Carolinas) used an early 10-2 run as Alisa Jones’ layup gave the Trojans a 12-7 lead with 12:56 left in the first half. Coker (2-6, 1-2) got as close as one point, but Tomeka Prichard’s three-pointer and Whitby’s putback highlighted a run of seven unanswered points to extend Mount Olive’s lead to 21-13 with 6:11 remaining.
Coker ended a near six-minute scoring drought and held the Trojans scoreless for five minutes to again close within a point. Megan Thomas keyed a run with a three-pointer and Alexis Blow’s short jumper brought the Cobras within 21-20 with 2:37 remaining.
Mount Olive closed out the half on a 5-0 run, as Prichard hit a jumper with 33 seconds left and Brittney Robich converted a three-point play with six seconds left after a steal by Jones at midcourt. Coker was unable to get a shot off in its final possession and Mount Olive went into the locker room with a 28-22 halftime lead.
Turnovers would be the story after intermission as both teams exceeded their first half turnover totals in the first 10 minutes of the second half.
Coker pulled within a field goal, but the Trojans matched their biggest lead after a Cobra turnover led to Whitby’s layup with 16:20 remaining to give Mount Olive a 36-28 advantage. But turnovers on three consecutive possessions, including two in the backcourt, led to an 8-0 Coker run as Aaltonen’s putback tied the game 38-38 with 13:25 left to play.
Mount Olive regained the lead on its next possession as Meaghan Vanderhorst drove the length of the floor and dished to Jones for an open layup. Shequanta McGee’s layup with 8:48 remaining extended the Trojans’ lead to 49-43. But Mount Olive would be limited to three field goals the rest of the way.
Aaltonen’s three-pointer cut the margin in half and Heidi Rienstra’s layup pulled Coker within 49-48 with 6:52 remaining. Coker had a chance to take its first lead of the second half on each of its next eight possessions, but was unable to capitalize. Robich, who dished out a career-high six assists, found Jones for an open layup to give Mount Olive a 51-48 lead with 3:24 remaining, ending the Trojans’ five-minute scoring drought.
Coker tied the game 51-51 after Aaltonen hit 1-of-2 free throws and Keisha Beavers hit a fastbreak layup with 1:36 remaining. Mount Olive went back on top seven seconds later on Miller’s 15-foot baseline jumper, but Aaltonen answered with a basket to tie the game 53-53 with 1:14 remaining.
The Trojans missed on their next possession and Blow’s layup with 42 seconds left put Coker on top for the first time since leading 7-6. After a Trojan missed three-point attempt, Blow hit a pair of free throws with 24 seconds left to make it a two-possession game.
McGee drove the length of the floor for a layup to pull the Trojans within a basket with 13 seconds left. Coker ran the clock down to four seconds before missing a pair of free throws, giving Mount Olive one last chance. But a 35-foot three-point attempt at the buzzer went off the side of the rim.
Miller finished with 12 points and a career-high 10 rebounds for Mount Olive. Whitby narrowly missed a double-double of her own, finishing with nine rebounds. Jones had eight rebounds and four blocked shots, while McGee added seven rebounds, five assists and four steals. Prichard also recorded four steals. Mount Olive outrebounded Coker 46-36.
Aaltonen, the only Coker player in double figures, pulled down a team-high seven rebounds. Thomas added nine points, four assists and four steals, while Jessica Hayes finished with six rebounds and six assists.
Mount Olive returns to action Thursday as the Trojans travel to Belmont, N.C., to take on Belmont Abbey in a Conference Carolinas match-up. Tip-off is 5:30 p.m. Coker plays host to St. Andrews Thursday at 5:30 p.m. in Conference Carolinas action.