EMCC Lions hold on for 74-69 home hoops win over Meridian

EMCC Lions hold on for 74-69 home hoops win over Meridian

SCOOBA – By nearly identical scores, the East Mississippi Community College basketball teams split with nearby rival Meridian Community College during MACJC non-division hoops action Monday night at EMCC's Keyes T. Currie Coliseum.  The EMCC men held on for a 74-69 victory over Meridian in the nightcap, while the visiting Lady Eagles rallied from a 12-point, second-half deficit in the opener to claim a 76-69 overtime win over the EMCC women.

In the men's nightcap, the Lions took advantage of multiple traveling calls and turnovers by the visitors to build a double-digit lead (17-6) by the 11:36 mark of the opening half.  EMCC later scored the last six points of the half to mount a 39-24 halftime advantage.

The Eagles responded by making a 24-4 run at the beginning of the second half to take a brief three-point lead (48-45) on a 3-pointer by Iverson Smith with 12:15 remaining in the game.  The two teams battled through four lead changes and four ties during an eight-minute stretch midway through the half to set up an eventful closing five minutes of action.

A tip-in basket by Dawson Graham followed by Darrious Agnew's three-point play opened up a 66-60 lead for EMCC with 2:42 left in the contest.  After the two teams traded free throws, Meridian's Alvarez Powell drilled a 3-pointer to cut the deficit in half heading into the final two minutes of play.

Down the stretch, the Lions benefitted from a pair of clutch offensive rebounds off missed three-point attempts.  First, Agnew grabbed an errant trey that was converted by Terryonte Thomas on a tough drive to the basket.  With less than a minute left and still a one-possession game, Dewayne Cox collected another missed 3-pointer and was rewarded with two made free throws to extend EMCC's lead to five points.  Following a quick Meridian basket by Talvyn Dean, the Lions sealed their 18th series win over Meridian in 20 tries dating back to the 2007-08 season with two free throws by Markedric Bell with 14 ticks remaining.

Improving to 2-0 on the young season, head coach Billy Begley had five players score in double figures against Meridian.  Agnew's team-leading dozen points on 5-of-7 shooting all came in the second half.  Graham and Thomas each contributed 11 points, while Bell and Robert Davis Jr. added 10 points apiece in the victory.

Evening their record to 1-1 on the year, the Meridian men were paced by Powell and Alex Oguinn with 19 and 16 points, respectively.

In the women's contest, a low-scoring opening quarter ended with Emily Evans banking in a 3-pointer at the buzzer to give EMCC a 12-9 lead.  The Lady Lions then exploded for 26 second-quarter points with freshmen Tye Metcalf and Maddie Riley combining for 20 points in the period to stake the EMCC women to a 38-28 halftime lead.

The Lady Lions maintained their advantage throughout the third quarter and led 55-46 heading into the final quarter of regulation.  The game's momentum began to swing in favor of the visitors at the start of the quarter with seven unanswered points by the Lady Eagles that cut the deficit to two points (55-53) by the 6:38 mark. 

After EMCC bounced back to take a five-point lead (60-55) on Metcalf's drive to the basket with under two minutes remaining, the visitors scored seven unanswered points to grab their first lead since the game's opening minutes.  A DaKeiya Cooley basket was followed by Jasmine Chickaway's game-tying, three-point play and Topazia Hawkins' go-ahead bucket to put Meridian in front 62-60 with 42.7 seconds remaining.  Metcalf's pair of free throws knotted the score with 30.3 ticks left, but neither team was able to break the deadlock during the closing seconds of regulation.

The Lady Eagles controlled the overtime period from the outset.  After scoring the first five points of the extra session, they later extended their lead to eight points (72-64).  EMCC managed to cut the deficit to five points twice during the final minute of play, but Meridian iced the game at the charity stripe.

In dropping their first decision of the year, head coach Sharon Thompson's 1-1 Lady Lions were led by Metcalf's game-high 26 points.  The Southaven product added five assists, three rebounds, two steals and a block.  Riley, out of Velma Jackson High School, registered her second double-double in as many games with 13 points and 13 rebounds for EMCC.

Also evening their record to 1-1 on the season, the Meridian women were paced by Hawkins' 23 points followed by 16 points apiece from Cooley and LaChrisha Williams.

East Mississippi's basketball teams will take on another local rival by traveling to Decatur to meet the Warriors of East Central Community College during a Thursday hoops doubleheader.  A 5:30 p.m. women's game will be followed by a 7:30 p.m. men's contest at Brackeen-Wood Gymnasium on the ECCC campus.