TUSCALOOSA, Ala. – Despite a valiant road effort against the nation's fifth-ranked women's basketball team, the Lady Lions of East Mississippi Community College dropped a 67-58 decision at Shelton State Community College Saturday afternoon.
Taking advantage of a sluggish start by both teams during the opening 20 minutes of play, the visitors held multiple four-point leads in the first half. With EMCC still on top 25-21 late in the half, Shelton State's Kendara Watts scored the last six points of the period to put the Lady Bucs in front 27-25 at the break.
After the home team moved ahead by four points to begin the second stanza, EMCC sophomore Wilma Davis nailed back-to-back 3-pointers while Kyra Gulledge added an inside bucket and a pair of free throws to give the Lady Lions their biggest lead of the game at 37-31 with 13:42 remaining in the contest.
The Lady Bucs, however, didn't panic and slowly got their offense on track midway through the half. A 16-3 run by Shelton State put the home team in front by seven points (47-40) with 8:21 left to play. Another Davis trey temporarily slowed the momentum, but SSCC put together an 8-1 rally to move the margin back up to double digits at 55-44.
To their credit, the EMCC women fought back down the stretch and their late 7-2 spurt cut the deficit to just five points (63-58) with a minute remaining. The visitors' upset attempt fell short as they would not score again. Scoring the final four points of the contest, the fifth-ranked Lady Bucs went on to claim their 20th win of the season in 22 decisions.
The nine-point setback snapped EMCC's five-game winning streak, though head coach Sharon Thompson's 11-7 Lady Lions remain tied with Itawamba atop the MACJC's North Division standings with identical 6-1 division marks.
Freshman point guard Lashyra Butler tallied 14 of her career-high 18 points in the second half to lead the Lady Lions. Davis, from West Point, followed with 14 points on the strength of her trio of second-half triples.
Shelton State's Watts led all scorers in the contest with 19 points.
With head coach Mark White's 12-4 EMCC Lions set to play host to William Carey College's junior varsity team Monday night (7 p.m.) in Scooba, the East Mississippi basketball teams will resume MACJC North Division play with Thursday's home doubleheader against Mississippi Delta Community College. Doubleheader hoops action is slated to tip off at 5:30 p.m. at Keyes T. Currie Coliseum on the Scooba campus.