SCOOBA – East Mississippi Community College's furious comeback attempt came up two points short in an 81-79 men's basketball setback to visiting Northwest Mississippi during Thursday night's MACJC North Division action at Keyes T. Currie Coliseum. In women's action, the Lady Lions featured four double-digit scorers in their 84-74 victory over the Lady Rangers.
The competitive men's contest featured four lead changes and four ties during the opening 20 minutes of play. An early 11-5 Northwest lead was answered with 10 straight EMCC points when the Lions went to their second unit. Midway through the half, consecutive baskets by Terryonte Thomas capped a 6-0 spurt that put the Lions on top by seven points (21-14). Keith Harris' 3-pointer at the end of the first half gave the home team a 40-37 lead at the intermission.
The Lions then promptly raced out of the second-half gates with three straight buckets to pull ahead by nine points (46-37). Following a slam dunk by EMCC's Ill'yan Scott, Northwest's defensive pressure abruptly turned the game around by forcing Lion turnovers in the backcourt. The Rangers proceeded to reel off 15 unanswered points during a four-minute stretch that gave them a 54-48 lead by the 13:15 mark of the second stanza.
Despite committing 16 second-half turnovers, the Lions gathered themselves to make one final push during the game's last two minutes. With NWCC still owning a nine-point (78-69) with 1:58 remaining in the contest, Terryonte Thomas' basket was followed by Dewayne Cox's steal and resulting bucket to narrow the deficit to five points with 1:31 left.
EMCC took advantage of missed 3-pointers and a Northwest miscue on an inbounds play down the stretch to pull even closer and eventually take a brief lead. Reigning MACJC Player of the Week Cam Horton converted a pair of free throws and then drilled a 3-pointer from the corner following a Northwest turnover to knot the score at 78-78 with 47.4 seconds remaining. Horton was again sent to the line after getting the rebound off a Ranger missed trey attempt. He made the second free throw to momentarily put the Lions in front by a point with 22.9 ticks left in regulation.
Following a Northwest timeout with ball possession, Tremont Robinson's missed layup was rebounded by teammate Therrell Gosier II, who converted the successful three-point play with just 3.6 seconds remaining to essentially seal the victory for the Rangers. EMCC did manage to get off one last shot attempt, but Cox's desperation three-point try near midcourt was off-target as the final buzzer sounded.
Dropping to 9-9 overall and 2-5 within the division, head coach Billy Begley's EMCC Lions were led by Cox's 23 points on 8-of-9 shooting from the field and 6-of-7 from the line to go along with his six rebounds and four steals. Horton and Terryonte Thomas added 16 points apiece.
Maintaining their share of the MACJC North Division lead at 6-1 in division play and 15-2 overall, the Northwest Rangers were paced by Robinson's game-high 28 points (10-15 FGs), seven steals, five rebounds and five assists. Gosier followed with 19 points and nine boards, while Justin Flakes and Jitaurious Gordon added 11 and 10 points, respectively, for the winners.
Behind the blazing start by reigning all-state guard Tyeisha Juhan, the Lady Lions jumped out to a quick 7-2 lead in the women's contest. The sophomore from Jonesboro, Georgia, scored the team's first nine points of the game en route to posting a 12-point opening quarter by hitting her first five shots from the field. Despite Juhan's first-quarter efforts, Northwest nabbed a 20-18 lead after one period on Emily Bush's 3-pointer.
Following three ties to open the second quarter, EMCC scored seven unanswered points to take a 31-24 lead. After the margin grew to 13 points (40-27) on Kyla Temple's 3-pointer, the Lady Lions held a nine-point (40-31) halftime advantage behind Juhan's 19 first-half points.
EMCC mounted its largest lead of the game (47-33) two minutes into the second stanza, but a subsequent 12-2 Northwest run cut the deficit to four points. The Lady Rangers made it a two-point game (56-54) later in the period before Kaisah Lucky's back-to-back buckets helped EMCC gain a 60-55 lead heading into the final 10 minutes of action.
After the visitors came to within three points (62-59) early in the third quarter, Lucky again stepped up for EMCC with a pull-up jumper followed by a three-point play on a put-back basket to extend the margin to eight points. From there, the Lady Lions held a comfortable lead for the remainder of the contest on their way to handing the Lady Rangers just their second division loss of the year and snapping their five-game winning streak.
Improving to 9-7 overall and 4-3 within the division, head coach Sharon Thompson's EMCC Lady Lions were led by Juhan's game-high 24 points while adding 10 rebounds for her fourth double-double of the year. Kayla Rogers, from Columbus, also recorded her fourth double-double of the season with a season-high 18 points on 8-of-14 shooting from the field in addition to grabbing 14 rebounds. Lucky scored all of her 16 points in the second half, while freshman Emily Evans chipped in with a season-best 11 points for the winners.
Falling to 10-7 overall and 5-2 in the division, the Lady Rangers were paced by Chrissah Shaw and Ciara Pettis with 19 and 13 points, respectively.
The East Mississippi basketball teams will travel to Clarksdale on Monday (Feb. 5) to take on the Tigers of Coahoma Community College. A 6 p.m. women's game will be followed by an 8 p.m. men's contest at the Pinnacle.