Marshalltown Community College never trailed, but never was safe.
The Tigers came away with a 75-68 victory over Olive-Harvey College Saturday during the opening day of the Emerson JUCO Challenge at the Student Activity Center.
The Marshalltown women used 24 points from Indre Mikelanaite and 17 from Arielle Lockett to improve to 7-2 for the season.
The Tigers built a 20-point lead in the second half, but a Lady Panther team that has one of the nation's leading scorers make things interesting in the late going.
"I think having eight days off didn't help us any," said MCC head coach Larry Roberts. "We were a little rusty.
"We have a problem with when we're ahead - we're up by 20 - then we just quit running an offense. You can't put a team away doing that."
Paris Wright scored 18 of her game-high 31 points in the second half to lead Olive-Harvey back.
Wright's 3-pointer cut the lead to single digits at 69-60 with 3 minutes left.
Marshalltown, which finished 15-for-17 at line, made enough free throws down the stretch to hold on. Jennifer Luckett also had a key basket with a minute left to push the advantage back to 10.
Wright, in the top 10 in NJCAA Division II in scoring, finished 9-for-21 from the field and was 10-for-12 from the foul line.
"Obviously they've got a couple girls that can score," Roberts said. "We kept fouling and putting (Wright) at the free-throw line. You put a kid that is averaging 25 points per game on the free-throw line, I'm guessing she can probably shoot, she's averaging 25 for a reason."
Marshalltown missed nine of its first 10 shots to start the game before settling in. Mikelanaite had 13 points before intermission and Tatiana Lewin added 10.
Emily Hunt hit a 3-pointer for the Tigers to break an 8-8 tie and start a 12-0 run. MCC led 45-34 at halftime as it made 14 of its final 23 shots from the field (61 percent).
Lockett and Mikelanaite led the scoring to start the second half as the Tigers extended the advantage to 20 points after making seven of their first nine shots of the half.
Marshalltown ended the game shooting 28-for-64 from the field - 44 percent.
"We had some decent shots and then they switched to a zone," Roberts said. "We would take good shots out of the zone for awhile and then we hurried up and had to shoot 3-pointers. We can get those 3-pointers at any time, they're not even defending the 3-point line, but we also can get the ball at the basket, we need to do that."
Lewin came off the bench to score 14 points for the Tigers.
"She scores 14 and that's a big boost coming off the bench," Roberts said. "We've got to make sure we have three or four scorers every night."
Mikelanaite had a stretch of making eight of 10 shots from the field and finished 9-for-16 on the night. Lockett shot 8-for-14 from the field to go with a team-high 11 rebounds. Heather Eash led the Tigers with seven assists.
In today's final day of the Challenge, MCC faces Loras JV at 6 p.m.
The start of conference play is a week-and-half away and the Tigers have three ranked teams consecutively to start things off before and after the holiday break.
"I don't want to take anything from Olive-Harvey, they played well and really got after it," Roberts said. "I'm glad we won. We just made too many mistakes if we're going to expect to beat the best teams in our conference."