EMCC Lions surrender halftime leads in dropping home hoops twin bill to Northeast

SCOOBA – The East Mississippi Community College basketball teams couldn't hold onto halftime leads in dropping home decisions to Northeast Mississippi Community College during Thursday's MACJC North Division action at Keyes T. Currie Coliseum.  The EMCC women fell, 68-60, to the division-leading Lady Tigers, while the Lions surrendered 54 second-half points in dropping an 87-78 nightcap decision to the Northeast men.

The opening 20 minutes of the women's contest featured some offensive efficiency from both teams, as EMCC's 55-percent shooting (18-33 FGs) was countered by Northeast's 65-percent accuracy (15-23 FGs) from the field.  With the Lions' trio comprised of freshman Tyeisha Juhan along with sophomores Quantesha Patterson and Anissia May all scoring in double figures during the opening half and combining for 34 first-half points between them, the home team settled in at halftime with a 40-34 lead at the break.

EMCC continued to maintain control of the contest by coming out of intermission and matching its largest lead (47-38) of the game midway through the third quarter following consecutive baskets by Juhan.  At that point, Northeast sophomore Shelby Wilbanks seemed to take things into her own hands by scoring 13 third-quarter points, including the last five of the period, to almost single-handedly pull the visitors to a 51-51 tie heading into the final quarter.

Despite Wilbanks' dominance in the third quarter, EMCC responded by scoring eight of the first 10 points of the fourth quarter to hold a 59-53 advantage following Kaisah Lucky's 3-pointer at the 6:25 mark.  However, that basket would end up being the Lions' last made field goal of the contest as they could only manage one made free throw the rest of the way.  Meanwhile, the Lady Tigers outscored EMCC, 15-1, over the game's final six minutes en route to the eight-point win.

Finishing with 51-percent shooting (29-57 FGs) as a team for the game, the Northeast women improved to 13-7 overall and a division-best 8-1 on the year.  Wilbanks scored 15 of her game-high 25 points (12-18 FGs) in the second half to go along with her eight rebounds and four assists.  LaKeiya Lane followed with 15 points, while Aundrea Adams and Timaya Stewart added 13 points apiece for the winners.

Falling to 11-7 overall and 6-3 within the division, Coach Sharon Thompson's EMCC Lions were led by Juhan's 20 points.  May finished with 16 points, while Patterson registered her 11th double-double of the season and 24th of her career with 15 points and 13 rebounds, though EMCC's reigning all-region performer was limited to just one field goal attempt during the second half.

The men's nightcap was tightly contested throughout the 40 minutes of action.  On the strength of 8-of-11 shooting from beyond the three-point arc in the first half, the Lions secured a 37-33 halftime advantage.

Following three ties during the first five minutes of the second stanza, the contest stayed within a four-point game for a majority of the half.  The Tigers began to create some distance under the six-minute mark on a Shunn Buchanan 3-pointer followed shortly thereafter when the visitors benefitted from a pair of technical fouls called on EMCC.  Three resulting made free throws with 4:35 remaining pushed Northeast's lead to 10 points (71-61).

The Lions were able to cut into the deficit during the final seconds on 3-pointers by Job Vernor and Josh Skinner, but the visitors converted 7-of-8 free throws over the game's final 35.6 seconds to seal the nine-point road victory.

Owning a 37-26 rebounding advantage in the contest, Northeast improved to 14-6 overall and 6-3 in division play.  The Tigers had four players in double figures led by Shunn Buchanan's game-high 21 points.  Leroy Buchanan and Zach Hudson followed with 17 points apiece, while Kendarius Smith added 16 points off the bench for the winners.

Keith Harris came off the EMCC bench to lead Coach Billy Begley's Lions, who fell to 7-11 overall and 3-6 within the division.  Vernor had 16 points on 4-of-5 three-point shooting and Anterio McKines chipped in with 14 points.

The East Mississippi basketball teams will return to the court on Thursday, Feb. 16, by traveling to Moorhead to take on the Trojans of Mississippi Delta Community College in doubleheader hoops action.