EMCC concludes regular-season road hoops slate by falling at Itawamba

FULTON – In their final regular-season road action, the East Mississippi Community College basketball teams were swept at Itawamba Community College Monday evening at the Davis Event Center.  The ICC Lady Indians stayed atop the division with a 70-65 win over the EMCC women, while Itawamba completed the sweep with a 78-66 victory over the Lions in the nightcap.

In the women's opener, the visitors bounced back from an early 14-2 deficit to cut the margin to three points (19-16) by the end of the first quarter.  Freshman Tyeisha Juhan gave the Lions a brief 20-19 lead early in the second quarter, but ICC's Marlee Hatcher answered with back-to-back 3-pointers to give back the lead the Lady Indians would not again relinquish.

Owners of a slim 35-31 halftime advantage, Itawamba stretched its lead to double figures (45-35) four minutes into the third quarter.  EMCC again responded by scoring seven straight points to pull within three points.  The division-leading Lady Indians answered by outscoring the visitors, 10-2, the rest of the quarter to extend their lead back to double digits (55-44) heading to the final period.

The Lions continued to battle throughout the fourth quarter and had trimmed the deficit to four points (60-56) when Hatcher banked in her sixth three-point field goal of the game (in seven attempts) with the shot clock running down and 2:10 remaining in the contest.  EMCC then managed to pull within three points two more times during the final minute of play, but Itawamba sealed the five-point victory by hitting 7-of-8 free throws down the stretch.

Remaining in third place in the MACJC North Division women's standings at 12-8 overall and 7-4 within the division, Coach Sharon Thompson's EMCC Lions were again led by the duo of Juhan and sophomore Quantesha Patterson with 23 and 18 points, respectively.

ICC's Lady Indians, now 15-6 overall and 10-1 in division play, were paced by Hatcher and Jabria Pounds with 22 and 15 points, respectively.   

The men's nightcap began nicely for the visitors with the Lions jumping out to an early 8-0 lead.  The contest was knotted at 17-17 midway through the opening half before the home-standing Indians caught fire from the perimeter.  ICC connected on seven 3-pointers during the final 10 minutes of the half to take a 44-28 halftime lead.

To their credit, the Lions didn't go down quietly and managed to cut the sizeable margin to single digits on a couple of occasions over the game's final minutes before Itawamba settled for the 12-point triumph.

Falling to 7-13 overall and 3-8 in the division, Coach Billy Begley's EMCC Lions received 15 and 14 points, respectively, from David McFarland and Keith Harris.

Improving to 10-11 overall and 6-5 within the division by shooting 60 percent (29-48 FGs) from the field for the game, Itawamba was led by Tre Jenkins' 20 points, including 6-of-10 from behind the three-point arc.  Quenten Taylor and Brian Halums added 17 and 15 points, respectively, to ICC's winning effort.

The East Mississippi basketball teams will wrap up the regular season by playing host to the Holmes Bulldogs during a Thursday twin bill on the Scooba campus.  Featuring 'Sophomore Night' recognitions, a 5:30 p.m. women's game will be followed by a 7:30 p.m. men's contest at EMCC's Keyes T. Currie Coliseum.