SENATOBIA – The East Mississippi Community College men's basketball team couldn't slow down MACJC South Division champion Pearl River Community College in the second half en route to dropping an 80-63 decision in Monday's opening round of the 2018 MACJC State Basketball Tournament. The four-day tournament is being played at Howard Coliseum on the campus of Northwest Mississippi Community College.
The MACJC South Division's top-seeded Wildcats shot 63 percent (19-of-30 FGs) from the field following intermission to build on their 33-25 halftime advantage. The EMCC Lions, seeded fourth out of the MACJC's North Division, were limited to just 29-percent field-goal shooting (9-of-31 FGs) in the opening half but still managed to stay within single digits by the break.
Pearl River maintained control throughout the second stanza, extending the advantage to as many as 18 points on multiple occasions throughout the 20-minute period. The Lions did manage to cut the deficit to 13 points a couple of times during the final two minutes of play, but the Wildcats had an answer nearly every time both offensively and defensively.
Improving to 19-4 overall on the year with 57-percent shooting (31-of-54 FGs) for the game, PRCC had five players score in double figures while advancing to take on No. 2 MACJC North seed Holmes in Wednesday's semifinals. Cedric Brim Jr. led the Wildcats with 17 points, while Eric Thornton Jr. and Rodney Mallett followed with 14 and 13 points, respectively, for the winners.
In contrast to Pearl River's balanced scoring in the first-round tournament game, East Mississippi basically relied on the scoring efforts of freshman guards Cam Horton (22 points) and Terryonte Thomas (21). Together the rookie tandem combined for 43 of the Lions' 63 points in the contest, including 29 of the team's 38 second-half points.
Coach Billy Begley's EMCC Lions concluded the 2017-18 hoops campaign with a 12-12 overall record and a fourth-place finish (5-7 mark) in the MACJC's North Division regular-season standings.