MOUNT OLIVE – Despite outscoring their opponents by double-figures in the second half, the Trojans fell short by a 74-64 margin against Francis Marion on Wednesday night in Conference Carolinas play at Kornegay Arena.
With the loss, the University of Mount Olive women’s basketball program drops to 3-7 this season behind a 1-1 mark in league action. The Patriots have won the last four meetings in the series and hold a 9-5 record all-time dating back to 1986. Meanwhile, Francis Marion improves to 7-5 overall with a 3-1 record in conference play.
Sophomore Laila Anderson finished with a game-high 26 points on 10-of-24 shooting while converting four three-pointers in the contest. She also contributed two rebounds, four assists, and four steals while playing all 40 minutes. Anderson ranks second in the Conference Carolinas in scoring with 20.0 points per game and has tallied 20 points or more in five contests this season.
Junior Kamania Griffin totaled nine points, four rebounds, one assist, one steal, and one block in 38 minutes. Sophomore Jada Priebe also registered nine points on four-of-seven attempts with three rebounds, one assist, and three steals in 38 minutes off the bench.
Junior Tiandria Tucker tallied six points, four rebounds, one assist, and four steals in 23 minutes. Senior Asia Smith recorded six points, a team-high eight rebounds, and three assists in 17 minutes. Junior Amber Nealy finished with six points, a team-high five assists, and three steals in 26 minutes off the bench.
Following a slow start by both sides, the Patriots established a 7-2 edge at the 4:47 mark of the first quarter before Tucker answered with a turn-around jumper to cut into the deficit. Francis Marion countered with 12 straight points to extend the lead to 19-4 before the teams exchanged points over the final one-plus minute. FMU quickly stretched the lead to 26-8 in the initial minute of the second quarter before Nealy tallied four unanswered points to trim the deficit to 26-12 with 8:04 left. The sides traded points during the majority of the second quarter before the Patriots scored the final four points to take a 45-25 lead at the break.
In the third quarter, the Trojans registered the opening six points to close the gap to 45-31 with 7:12 remaining. Francis Marion responded with six consecutive points before UMO mounted an 11-4 rally to cut the deficit to 55-42 late in the third. Mount Olive scored five of the final seven points to trail 57-47 heading into the fourth quarter. The Trojans closed the gap to nine points early in the quarter, but FMU converted six-of-eight from the free-throw line in the final minutes to secure the win, 74-64.
UMO finished the contest shooting 37.1 percent (26-of-70) from the floor while converting 5-of-18 (27.8 percent) from three-point range. Meanwhile, Francis Marion posted a .417 field goal percentage (25-of-60) and made 19-of-23 (82.6 percent) from the free-throw line. The Patriots recorded a significant 46-30 rebounding advantage with 16 second-chance points, while the Trojans registered 16 points off 24 forced turnovers.
The reigning Conference Carolinas Player of the Year, senior Lauryn Taylor registered her eighth double-double of the season after scoring 21 points and grabbing 19 rebounds in 36 minutes. Junior Kiana Lee also tallied 21 points on 6-of-11 shots with eight rebounds, three assists, and two steals in 37 minutes.
The Trojans return to Conference Carolinas action on Saturday, Jan. 6, when they travel to face league newcomer Young Harris with tip-off set for 2 p.m.