MERIDIAN – The East Mississippi Community College women's basketball team held on for a 61-59 road victory over Meridian Community College to successfully open the new year Thursday evening at Graham Gymnasium.
In the teams' first game action following the holiday break, EMCC held the home-standing Lady Eagles scoreless over the final three minutes of the contest to secure a second straight season series sweep over Meridian and improve to 6-3 overall on the campaign.
Sparked by three straight baskets from freshman Tyeisha Juhan to open the game, the visitors later built on a 14-11 first-quarter lead with 10 unanswered points to jump out to an 11-point advantage (27-16) midway through the second quarter. Meridian then used a 9-2 run, including scoring the final six points of the half, to cut the EMCC lead to 33-29 by the break.
The Lions seemed to regain control of the contest in the third quarter after consecutive buckets by all-region performer Quantesha Patterson pushed the margin back up to eight points (46-38). Fellow sophomore Anissia May later hit a 3-pointer to close out the third-quarter scoring and give EMCC a 52-45 lead heading to the final quarter.
May, who had missed her first six shots of the contest, then played a vital role for the victorious Lions during the low-scoring final period. Following Rokila Wallace's back-to-back scores that gave the home team its first lead since the opening quarter, May countered by hitting a clutch basket on an inbounds play with the shot clock running down to reclaim the lead for EMCC (60-59) with just over two minutes left.
After nearly two minutes of missed opportunities by both teams down the stretch, Juhan hit one of two free throws to give EMCC a two-point edge with 8.9 ticks remaining in regulation. On the ensuing Meridian possession, Tiana Campbell's errant entry pass inside was picked off by May as she dove to the floor to secure ball possession with a timeout. A successful inbounds pass by the visitors sealed the narrow victory and gave the EMCC women their fourth consecutive series win over the Lady Eagles.
Juhan, from Jonesboro, Georgia, led all scorers with 21 points, including 14 in the first half. Hitting all four of her second-half shot attempts, May followed with a season-high 14 points to match her career best. Patterson, an East Webster High School product, added 13 points on 5-of-8 shooting from the field. A key factor in just her second start of the season, freshman guard Robrieka Finn contributed eight points and a team-high 10 rebounds in the winning effort.
Falling to 6-3 on the year, the MCC Lady Eagles were paced by Qiayon Bailey's double-double performance of 17 points and 11 rebounds.
The scheduled men's nightcap between East Mississippi and Meridian was cancelled in advance due to the suspension by the NJCAA of several players from an incident that occurred on December 15 during a 91-75 MCC home victory over Faulkner State Community College.
The EMCC basketball teams will play host to East Central Community College in an inter-divisional MACJC doubleheader Tuesday (Jan. 10) on the Scooba campus. A 5:30 p.m. women's game will be followed by a 7:30 p.m. men's contest at EMCC's Keyes T. Currie Coliseum.