SCOOBA – The East Mississippi Community College basketball teams dropped a pair of close decisions to visiting Holmes Community College during Monday's MACJC North Division hoops action at Keyes T. Currie Coliseum. The EMCC women let a fourth-quarter lead slip away in falling, 76-73, while the Lions played the division-leading Bulldogs tough before being downed, 71-66, in the men's nightcap.
With the men's nightcap going down to the wire, the host Lions owned the early upper hand. Keith Harris' trio of made 3-pointers during the opening 13 minutes of play helped give EMCC the initial advantage. Following Harris' third triple of the half, however, Holmes responded by scoring 13 unanswered points to take an eight-point (33-25) lead with less than a minute left in the half. The Lions were able to regain some momentum heading into intermission with a pair of Ill'yan Scott free throws and a buzzer-beating 3-pointer from just inside the midcourt line by MACJC Men's Basketball Player of the Week Cam Horton.
The Lions' run continued following intermission with nine unanswered points to take a 39-33 lead three minutes into the second stanza. EMCC maintained the advantage for most of the second half until two straight baskets by Trevais Spencer put the Bulldogs back on top, 59-57, with 3:31 left in the contest.
Holmes did not relinquish the lead for the remainder of the game. The visitors moved ahead by six points (66-60) on another Spencer bucket with 2:20 left on the game clock. The Lions were able to make it a one-possession game (69-66) down the stretch after consecutive baskets by Dewayne Cox, but Spencer's pair of free throws with 13.5 ticks remaining sealed the victory for the Bulldogs.
Falling to 9-8 overall and 2-4 within the division, head coach Billy Begley's EMCC Lions were led by Harris' career-high 27 points. The Starkville native hit a red-hot 8-of-12 shots from the field, including 6-of-9 from three-point range, and 5-of-6 from the charity stripe in addition to pulling down seven defensive rebounds. Horton and New Hope High School product Terryonte Thomas followed with 10 and nine points, respectively.
Maintaining their share of the MACJC North Division lead at 15-2 overall and 5-1 in division play, the Holmes Bulldogs were powered by Javon Franklin's double-double performance of 20 points and 13 rebounds, including a perfect 9-of-9 accuracy from the floor and eight offensive boards. Spencer and Kassim Nicholson added 16 and 13 points, respectively, to the winning effort.
To open the night, the home-standing Lady Lions held the advantage for most of the game until the final minutes. EMCC led, 19-13, at the end of the opening quarter and held on for a four-point (38-34) halftime lead despite having three starters in first-half foul trouble.
Upon briefly losing the lead after Holmes scored the first six points to begin the second stanza, the EMCC women went on a 12-2 run to take an eight-point lead that held up heading into the final period. Sophomore all-state guard Tyeisha Juhan then opened the fourth quarter with a three-point play followed by a steal and resulting basket to extend the margin to 13 points (62-49).
With Holmes' Kamelia Lacy scoring 10 of her 18 points in the fourth quarter, the Lady Bulldogs chipped away at EMCC's lead throughout the final eight minutes of the contest. They first scored 10 unanswered points – six by Lacy – to pull to within a basket (64-62) by the 4:40 mark. A 3-pointer by Ja'Breonia Veasey later knotted the score at 68-all with three minutes remaining in the game.
The visitors owned the advantage during the final minute of play. After Lacy's basket gave Holmes a 71-70 edge, EMCC tied the score on Kaisah Lucky's 1-of-2 effort from the charity stripe. Lacy then rebounded her own miss and sank both free throws with 30 seconds left to put the Lady Bulldogs on top for good. Veasey's pair of made charity tosses with 14.8 seconds remaining made it a four-point game (75-71). The Lady Lions answered with a quick Kayla Rogers bucket to cut the deficit in half with 6.9 ticks left. Following a 1-of-2 trip to the line by Holmes' Aneisha Evans, Lucky's potential game-tying 3-pointer at the final buzzer was off target.
Dropping to 8-7 overall and 3-3 within the division, head coach Sharon Thompson's EMCC Lady Lions were led by Juhan (27 points) and Lucky (21) combining for 48 of the team's 73 points.
Improving to 10-6 overall and 4-2 in division play, Holmes was paced by Veasey's 19 points off the bench.
The East Mississippi basketball teams stay at home to welcome the divisional co-leading Northwest Mississippi Rangers for a Thursday doubleheader on the Scooba campus. A 5:30 p.m. women's game will be followed by a 7:30 p.m. men's contest at EMCC's Currie Coliseum.