SCOOBA – The Lions fell for just the second time in division play by dropping a 71-66 home decision to Northwest Mississippi during Monday's MACJC North Division basketball doubleheader played at Keyes T. Currie Coliseum. In women's action, the Lady Lions extended their win streak to 14 consecutive games with a 61-54 victory over the visiting Lady Rangers.
The men's nightcap went down to the wire after staying to within a seven-point contest throughout the entire 40 minutes of play. While maintaining a trio of six-point leads in the opening half, the Lions owned a 26-23 halftime edge.
Following intermission, the Rangers reclaimed the lead (32-31) on a put-back basket by Milton Magee at the 15:39 mark. With the exception of a couple of ties and one brief EMCC lead late in the game, the visitors held the advantage for a majority of the last 15 minutes of the second half.
Northwest broke a 49-49 deadlock by scoring seven unanswered points to move ahead, 56-49, with 5:22 remaining in the game. With the help of 14 second-half points by Jakorie Smith, the Lions then went on an 11-3 run to take a brief 60-59 lead on Smith's 3-pointer with just under two minutes left on the game clock.
With critical turnovers down the stretch and 20 miscues for the game, EMCC couldn't hold onto the lead. While out-scoring the Lions, 22-10, from the free throw line in the contest, Northwest scored its last 14 points over the game's final four minutes from the charity stripe. Included in that game-deciding stretch were a pair of technical foul shots converted by NWCC's Jakobi Pearson with 16.7 seconds remaining in a three-point contest at the time.
In falling to 15-6 overall and 8-2 in MACJC North play, Coach Billy Begley's EMCC Lions were led Smith's 21 points. Tabbed for the second time this season as the MACJC Men's Basketball Player of the Week for his efforts during last week's wins over Holmes and Coahoma, Smith made 9-of-12 shots from the field against Northwest. Donte Powers was EMCC's other double-digit scorer in the contest with 11 points and four assists off the bench.
Improving to 14-7 overall and 6-4 within the division, the Rangers had four players reach double figures in the scoring column. Pearson topped all scorers with 25 points, including a perfect 12-of-12 from the free throw line, while Magee and James Richards followed with a dozen points apiece for Northwest. Kavonte Tunstall added 10 points for the visitors.
The home-standing Lady Lions never trailed in the women's contest. After leading, 10-7, following a low-scoring opening quarter, EMCC maintained a 25-21 edge at the halftime break as sophomore guards Tye Metcalf and Taylor Lattimore combined for 20 of the team's 25 first-half points.
The Lady Lions appeared to be on their way to taking control of the game by making an 11-2 run during the first six minutes of the second stanza to open up a 13-point lead (36-23) by the 4:08 mark. The Lady Rangers responded by scoring the last seven points of the quarter on the way to going on a 14-1 spurt that knotted the score at 37-37 with 8:23 remaining in the contest.
Following a 39-39 deadlock, Lattimore's fifth 3-pointer of the game ignited an 8-2 EMCC run that also featured a three-point play by Ja'Mia Hollings. After Northwest cut the deficit to two points (47-45) on Tamarah Sykes' basket, Coach Sharon Thompson's Lady Lions answered with another 8-2 rally that pushed the margin back up to eight points (55-47) with two minutes left on the game clock. EMCC then proceeded to score its final six points from the charity stripe on the way to improving to 19-2 overall (9-0 at home) and staying perfect in division play (10-0).
Lattimore, a transfer from Jackson State, led all game scorers with 21 points followed by Metcalf's 16 points. Sophomore Maddie Riley recorded her 10th career double-double with 13 points and 12 rebounds, while Hollings just missed another double-double with a dozen rebounds and nine points.
Dropping to 13-8 overall and 5-5 within the division, the Lady Rangers were led by Sykes' 19 points and nine rebounds off the Northwest bench.
The East Mississippi basketball teams will enter the final week of the MACJC basketball regular season by taking on Itawamba Monday evening in Fulton before playing host to Northeast Mississippi during next Thursday's (Feb. 20) "Sophomore Night" doubleheader action on the Scooba campus.