Torrid second-half shooting sparks EMCC to 88-80 home win over Northwest Mississippi in division opener

Torrid second-half shooting sparks EMCC to 88-80 home win over Northwest Mississippi in division opener

SCOOBA – East Mississippi Community College's basketball teams tipped off MACJC North Division play on a winning note by sweeping visiting Northwest Mississippi Community College Tuesday evening at Keyes T. Currie Coliseum on the Scooba campus.  Balanced scoring by both EMCC teams lifted the women to a 72-53 victory followed by the men's 88-80 triumph in the nightcap.

In the men's nightcap, the Lions overcame a 36-33 halftime deficit by exploding for a 16-1 run early in the second half that quickly turned a four-point deficit into an 11-point lead (58-47) by the midway point of the half.  After each being held scoreless through the opening 20 minutes of play, sophomore David McFarland and freshman Keith Harris both nailed a pair of 3-pointers while combining to score all 16 of EMCC's points during the game-changing stretch.

Along with connecting on long-range jumpers, the Lions were also able to get to the rim with frequency en route to shooting a sizzling 69 percent (18-26 FGs) from the field following intermission.  EMCC was outshot (50% to 37%) during the opening half but finished with 53 percent (28-53 FGs) accuracy for the contest.

Despite EMCC's red-hot shooting, the Rangers were still in the contest after a put-back basket by Alex Shepard made it 77-66 with 2:34 still left to play.  However on the play, Northwest's bench was called for back-to-back technical fouls allowing McFarland to convert 5-of-6 free throws to lengthen the margin to 16 points (82-66).

The visitors did manage to pull together during the final minute of play to make things interesting down the stretch.  Still trailing by 16 points (84-68) with a little over a minute remaining, Northwest made a valiant 12-1 spurt to cut the deficit to five points (85-80) with 12.7 ticks left.  McFarland was able to cap his 23-point evening – all in the second half – with three more made charity tosses to account for the final eight-point margin.

McFarland, a Raymond High School product, bounced back from his scoreless first half in which he only had one shot attempt to finish the night shooting 5-of-7 from the field, including the pair of timely treys, and 11-of-14 from the line.

Equally as instrumental in the Lions' second-half explosion, Harris rebounded from playing only one first-half minute after being saddled with two early fouls by scoring all 19 of his points after the break on 8-of-13 shooting, including 3-of-5 from beyond the arc.  The Starkville High School product also had four rebounds and four assists.

Fellow Starkville native Josh Skinner followed with 15 points on 4-of-7 treys, while Quitman's Anterio McKines and freshman Carlos Thomas rounded out EMCC's quintet of double-figure scorers with 12 and 10 points, respectively.

Falling to 7-2 overall on the year, the Northwest men were led by Keelin Jackson and Dakota Dailey with 19 and 16 points, respectively.

Coach Billy Begley's 5-3 EMCC Lions will hit the road for their final pre-Christmas game action by taking on Wallace State Community College Saturday afternoon in Hanceville, Alabama.  Tip-off at Tom Drake Coliseum is set for 4 p.m.