Strong Second Half Guides Northwest to Victory at EMCC

SCOOBA – Four Northwest players finished in double figures, including a 23-point effort from Jakobi Pearson in the second half, as the Rangers toppled East Mississippi 71-66 on Monday evening in Scooba.

Pearon led all scorers with 25 points despite being limited to only two points in the first half. The Duncanville, Texas native also tied his career-high point total for the third time this season, scoring the most points since a Dec. 4 victory against SAU Tech.

Northwest improved to 14-7 overall and 6-4 in the MACJC North. With the loss, EMCC fell to 15-6 overall and 8-2 in division competition.

After James Richards III sank a three-pointer to put the Rangers up 7-6, the Lions embarked on a 7-0 run highlighted by a Jakorie Smith three-pointer. Kavonte Tunstall sank three free throws to trim the margin down to three, only for EMCC to go back up by six off a Romeo Sanders three-point basket.

Both teams traded baskets for the rest of the first half and the Lions never led by more than six, as Northwest trailed 26-23 at the break.

Northwest opened the second half with a pair of baskets from Tunstall and Milton McGee, Jr. to tie the contest at 27-27. Three minutes later, McGee would strike again on a jumper to put the Rangers up 32-31, their first lead since the early stages of the first half.

Northwest led for the next six minutes of the second half until the Lions tied the contest at 47-all with a pair of made free throws from Donte Powers with nine minutes to go.

Tied at 49-49, Pearson's three-pointer would spark a 7-0 run that allowed the Rangers to take a 56-49 lead with 5:29 left to go.

EMCC had no intentions of going down without a fight on its home floor as the Lions rallied to regain a 60-59 advantage with two minutes remaining.

Losing the lead didn't seem to faze Northwest however, as Pearson hit six consecutive free throws coupled with big defense stops on the other end of the floor to give the Rangers some breathing room, leading 65-60 with less than a minute to go.

Although Powers twice trimmed the lead back down to three off a jumper and a pair of made free throws, Pearson and Richards hit all of their free throws down the stretch, including a pair of extra ones off an EMCC technical foul, sealing the five-point win on the road.

Richards scored 12 points and provided eight rebounds for the Rangers in the victory, while McGee also chipped in 12 points. Tunstall came away with 10 points to round out the top scoring for Northwest.

Jakorie Smith led East Mississippi with 21 points, followed by 11 from Powers.

Northwest was outshot 45 percent to 39 percent from the floor and were outscored in points in the paint (30-16) and bench points (24-14), though the Rangers did finish with 23 points off turnovers.

Northwest will take its final road trip of the regular season at Mississippi Delta on Thursday, Feb. 13 at 8 p.m.