EMCC Lions use 24-3 first-half spurt to run past Itawamba 78-51

EMCC Lions use 24-3 first-half spurt to run past Itawamba 78-51

FULTON – A 24-3 run to close out the first half lifted the Lions of East Mississippi Community College to a convincing 78-51 road victory over Itawamba Community College during Thursday night MACJC North Division basketball action played at ICC's Davis Event Center.  In women's action, ICC held on for a 59-55 win to snap the Lady Lions' five-game winning streak.

In the men's nightcap, Cam Horton's third made 3-pointer in as many attempts during opening-half action put the visitors on top, 17-16, at the 8:31 mark and ignited the game-changing spurt that enabled the Lions to double up the home-standing Indians, 38-19, by the halftime break.  Fresh off his career-best, 36-point effort at Mississippi Delta earlier in the week, Horton's 12 first-half points paced EMCC to the 19-point advantage by intermission.

After opening the second stanza with an alley-oop slam by Markedric Bell on a feed from Horton, the Lions maintained their sizable margin throughout the remaining 20 minutes of play en route to the commanding 27-point road triumph.  EMCC's largest lead of the game was 28 points (63-35) following a Robert Davis Jr. steal and resulting basket midway through the second half.

Though rested for a good portion of the closing period, Horton finished with a team-high 17 points on 5-of-8 shooting from the field.  With 13 EMCC players getting into the scoring column for the game, Ripley's Dewayne Cox again contributed off the bench with 13 points on 6-of-10 shooting to go along with six rebounds, including four offensive boards, and three steals.  Receiving a starting assignment, Bell, from Starkville, added 10 points and five offensive rebounds, as head coach Billy Begley's EMCC Lions improved to 9-7 overall and 2-3 within the division.

Dropping to 7-7 overall and 2-3 in division play, the ICC men were led by Ole Miss signee Brian Halum' 14 points.  Eric Brown added 11 points, while Chayton York and Tre Jenkins followed with eight points apiece.

In the women's contest, ICC scored the last six points of the first quarter to take an 18-12 lead.  Back-to-back 3-pointers by Constance Dunn toward the end of the second period then gave Itawamba a 28-21 halftime advantage.

The ICC women opened the second stanza with eight unanswered points to build a 15-point lead (36-21) two minutes into the third quarter.  The Lady Indians maintained their double-digit cushion throughout the quarter and led, 49-37, heading into the final period.

EMCC battled throughout the fourth quarter to keep the deficit in single digits.  With ICC still leading by nine points (57-48) with two minutes remaining in the game, the Lady Lions would make things very interesting down the stretch.  Despite struggling from the field throughout the game, EMCC's Tyeisha Juhan stepped up to drill a 3-pointer and cut the deficit to six points (57-51) with 1:25 left in regulation.

Following an offensive foul and two missed free throws by Itawamba, Juhan then nailed a contested trey to make it a one-possession game with 9.4 ticks remaining.  After the Lady Indians threw the ball away on an inbounds pass from their bench area, EMCC's Kaisah Lucky was fouled and sent to the free throw line with 7.6 second left.  She hit the first charity toss and the missed second effort was initially collected by teammate Brianna Page, who was stripped of the ball during her offensive rebound attempt.  ICC's Shaniyah Buford calmly hit two free throws with 3.7 seconds remaining to secure the four-point win for the home team.

Falling to 8-6 overall and 3-2 within the division, head coach Sharon Thompson's EMCC Lady Lions were led by Kayla Rogers' season-high totals of 17 points and 14 rebounds.  Along with posting her third double-double of the year, the Columbus High School product had three blocked shots.  Juhan was limited to 11 points – 10 below her season's average – on just 3-of-20 shooting for the night.

Improving to 9-5 overall and 3-2 in the MACJC North, ICC's Lady Indians were paced by Buford's game-high 18 points.  Dunn and Lauren Fitch added a dozen points apiece to the winning effort.

The East Mississippi basketball teams will be at home for a pair of division doubleheaders next week on the Scooba campus.  Following Monday's games against the Holmes Bulldogs, the Lions will play host to the Rangers of Northwest Mississippi in a Thursday twin bill.  Each upcoming home hoops doubleheader will consist of a 5:30 p.m. women's game followed by a 7:30 p.m. men's contest at EMCC's Keyes T. Currie Coliseum.