GOODMAN – Another early double-digit deficit marked a second straight one-point loss for the East Mississippi Community College men's basketball team, as the Lions dropped a hard-fought 75-74 road decision to the Holmes Bulldogs during Thursday night's MACJC North Division hoops action played at Frank Branch Coliseum. In the women's contest, the visiting Lady Lions went scoreless for the final 2:20 of their 61-57 road setback to the Lady Bulldogs.
Just two days removed from their tough-luck 58-57 home loss to East Central in which they fought back from a 26-11 deficit, the Lions found themselves in the same predicament against a hot-shooting Holmes club. This time, EMCC fell behind 20-6 before battling back to take a halftime lead. Ignited by a Robert Davis Jr. three-point play and ensuing back-to-back 3-pointers from Terryonte Thomas, a 12-0 spurt by the visitors late in the half gave them their first lead of the game and propelled the Lions to a 31-27 halftime advantage.
With sophomore guard Dewayne Cox scoring seven of his 10 points during the opening minutes of the second stanza, EMCC extended its lead to eight points (38-30). Later in the half with the scored tied at 44-all, Holmes' Czar Perry single-handedly put the Bulldogs on his back during a sensational second-half shooting performance. The Northwestern State (La.) transfer drilled 5-of-6 shots from beyond the three-point arc after halftime en route to pumping in 26 second-half points.
Despite Perry's second-half heroics, the Lions hung tough by matching the Bulldogs during a three-point shooting duel midway through the half. With three minutes left in the game, EMCC scored six unanswered points to pull to within a single point (70-69) by the 1:52 mark. Perry then came through at the charity stripe by hitting three clutch free throws after getting fouled on the perimeter with the shot clock winding down.
Markedric Bell's basket cut the deficit in half (73-71) entering the final minute of play. After the two teams traded empty possessions, Holmes' Kassim Nicholson made it a two-possession game by nailing a pair of charity tosses with 15.3 seconds remaining on the game clock. Davis kept the visitors in the game by promptly drilling a 3-pointer on a feed from Cox with 11.3 ticks left. Nicholson couldn't convert on the front end of his subsequent 1-and-1 opportunity, but the Lions weren't able to get a decent look at the basket during the waning seconds of the nail-biter.
In falling to 7-6 overall and 1-1 in division play following the week's tandem of single-point setbacks, Coach Billy Begley's EMCC Lions were led by Davis and Bell with 19 and 17 points, respectively, against Holmes. Bell, a Starkville product, added 10 rebounds to record his third career double-double. Cox and Thomas followed with 10 points each.
The Bulldogs improved to 9-3 overall in their division opener behind Perry's game-high 37 points. The Arkansas native connected on 14-of-21 shots from the field, including 6-of-9 accuracy from behind the three-point line. Tanorrio Ransburgh and Nicholson contributed 14 and 12 points, respectively, in the winning effort.
In women's action, the Lady Lions grabbed a 15-10 lead after the opening quarter, but Holmes doubled up the visitors 16-8 during the second quarter to take a 26-23 halftime lead.
Following intermission, the EMCC women rebounded from an eight-point deficit midway through the third quarter to make it a one-point game (41-40) heading into the final period.
With EMCC freshman guard Tatyana Norment scoring 15 of her game-high 17 points after halftime, the visitors moved ahead by five points with a 7-1 run to open the fourth quarter. The Lady Lions maintained a slim 57-55 lead following two made free throws by freshman forward Aamiya Rush at the 2:20 mark.
However, the visitors were unable to generate any additional offense for the remainder of the contest. A pair of unsuccessful two-shot foul tries were followed by two empty drive attempts to the basket as well as a tandem of off-target 3-pointers during the final two-plus minutes of action. Meanwhile, Holmes hit 6-of-8 free throws during the closing stretch, including a pair of game-clinching foul shots by Jekalen Jones with 11 seconds remaining in the contest.
Coach Sharon Thompson's EMCC Lady Lions dropped to 4-9 overall and 1-1 within the division with their fifth consecutive setback. In addition to Norment's game-best 17 points, Rush came off the bench to register her second double-double of the season with 13 points and 15 rebounds.
The Holmes Lady Bulldogs improved to 5-7 overall with their division-opening victory. Jones led the way with 14 points, including 9-of-12 free throws.
The East Mississippi basketball teams continue road action by traveling to Clarksdale to meet the Coahoma Tigers during a Monday evening (Jan. 14) hoops doubleheader. A 6 p.m. women's game will be followed by an 8 p.m. men's contest at the Pinnacle on the Coahoma campus. Both games are scheduled to be available via live-stream at www.EMCCAthletics.com/live with Austin Buchanan set to call the play-by-play action.